The National Basketball Association (NBA) is experiencing “its strongest TV viewership since the Michael Jordan era,” writes Sports Business Daily, with local ratings up by 19% and four teams more than doubling last year’s ratings. As Jeff Krolik, EVP of Fox Sports told the Daily, “The fans are happy to have the NBA back and it’s reflected in the ratings…It’s another example of the power of live sports.”
Nationally, ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV all expect to post their highest NBA ratings historically. ABC has averaged 2.063 million viewers over four games, up 10% over last season. TNT over 21 broadcasts has averaged 2.7 million viewers, a leap of 25% over last season. Premium channel NBA TV is averaging 352,000 viewers across 52 games, up 52%.
New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin is driving record ratings at MSG Network (named for Madison Square Garden in New York). Two games generated a 7.3 rating (about 540,800 households) for an 82% jump compared to last season. And as the Daily observes, these were against the worst NBA teams (the New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets).
Still, Lin fever overcame the threat of dull watching. The ratings increase has also generated double-digit increase in ad rates, and a 10% boost in ad revenue for MSG to date. That despite MSG’s being off the air for the season’s first half, due to a contract dispute with Time Warner Cable.