Eastern Conference Finals Leads ESPN to Highest Rated NBA Playoffs Ever

The 2012 NBA Playoffs generated record ratings and viewership on ESPN, led by the Eastern Conference Finals, which delivered the network’s highest-rated, most-viewed NBA series ever, according to Nielsen. It averaged a 6.2 US household rating, matching the highest-rated Conference Finals ever on cable, and was up 44% compared to ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 Western Conference Finals (4.3). The series averaged 10.14 million viewers (P2+), up 46% from 2011 (6.94 million) and up 43% in household impressions from 2011 (4.99 million).

Game 7 of the series ranks as the highest rated NBA game ever on cable, notching a 7.7 US rating. Game 7 also delivered the largest audience for an NBA game in cable history in both viewership (13.35 million) and households (8.79 million). Additionally, the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals generated the three-highest rated NBA games on cable: Game 7, Game 4 and Game 6.

The Eastern Conference Finals helped propel ESPN to its highest-rated, most-viewed NBA Playoffs ever. In 21 games, ESPN averaged a 4.5 household coverage rating, up 25% compared to last year’s 3.6. In addition, ESPN also was up 25% in viewership (6.23 million vs. 4.975 million) and up 25% in household impressions (4.5 million vs. 3.61 million).

ESPN 3 and WatchESPN
The 2012 NBA Playoffs on ESPN3 and WatchESPN averaged 10.6 million minutes per game across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox, more than double (up 102%) compared to last year. Additionally, the Eastern Conference Finals logged its largest growth on computers, with unique viewers per game up 72% and total minutes per game up 82%, recording an average minute audience per game of 118,000. ESPN3 and WatchESPN also logged its largest NBA audience this season with Game 7 of the Heat vs. Celtics, generating an average minute audience of 176,000, 534,000 unique viewers and 28.8 million minutes.

ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile
Throughout the 2012 NBA Playoffs, NBA content on ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile properties logged an average minute audience of 71,000, up 22% compared to the previous year (source: Adobe/Omniture). Specifically, the NBA section on ESPN.com averaged 1.9 million daily unique visitors, with 16 million total minutes per day up 9%. Additionally, the NBA section on the ESPN mobile Web averaged 1.7 million daily unique visitors, with 17 million total minutes per day up 45%.