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NBA All-Star Game Audience Slides 22% from 2011 Contest

2/28/2012 2:38 PM Eastern

After setting a new Nielsen mark with the Friday night contest showcasing the league's rookies and sophomores, TNT saw its audience decline with both the NBA All-Star Saturday Night and the pro basketball circuit's All-Star Game from Orlando on Sunday.
TNT averaged a 4.4 U.S. household rating and nearly 7.1 million viewers for its Feb. 26 telecast of the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, according to Nielsen data. Those marks were down 15% and 22%, respectively, from a 5.2 rating and 9.1 million viewers in 2011, which was the network's second-best performance since it began televising the event in 2003, behind what was Michael Jordan's final appearance in the contest that year.
The drama network's performance, which was up 16% in rating and 3% in audience from the 3.8 rating and 6.85 million watchers for the 2010 game, may have been hampered by what was a sizable West lead for much of the game until LeBron James led a fourth-quarter comeback that fell short on The King's last-second turnover, not to mention ABC's presentation of the Academy Awards. The Oscar-fest drew 39.3 million viewers, up 3.7% from last year's telecast albeit with flat viewership among persons 18 to 49.

Nevertheless, the NBA All-Star Game delivered the largest audience in cable for the night and the week of Feb. 20-26, beating out the 7.04 million who watched AMC's The Walking Dead. The zombie series, though, held an edge among the demo Madison Avenue values most:a 3.8 to a 3.3 for the pro hoops spectacle.
As for NBA All-Star Saturday Night, which was widely panned for the lack of marquee dunkers and the quality of their props-laden slams, TNT took an audience hit with 6.2 million watchers, according to Nielsen. That was down 23% from the event's record 8.1 million watchers in 2011, when the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffen captivated the hoop nation's attention by dunking over the front of a Kia, the NBA's official vehicle, with an alley-oop assist from then teammate Baron Davis through the convertible's roof. Nevertheless, the 2012 event stands as the third-most-watched in its history.
TNT's Friday night telecast of the 2012 BVA Rising Stars Challenge, which featured Griffin and a nine-minute appearance by  New York Knicks' point guard sensation Jeremey Lin, was the most-watched telecast in the event's history, with more than 2.7 million viewers.

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