Postseason Is Ratings Season

4/28/2006 10:05 AM Eastern

National Hockey League and National Basketball Association playoff games have generated good numbers for their cable carriers.

In its first year of NHL playoff coverage, OLN averaged a 0.3 household rating through 11 live telecasts. That represents a 200% jump from the same time periods last year, the network said.

Moreover, the network’s NHL playoff coverage increased its male 18-34 and 18-49 viewership by 303% and 297%, respectively.

OLN spokeswoman Amy Phillips said the network is pleased thus far with its playoff performance, despite not having the ratings benefit of the teams’ local-market audiences, where its signal is blacked out.

In the second round, OLN has exclusive coverage for two games of each matchup, and the Comcast Corp.-owned service has full exclusivity for third-round action.

On the hoops front, ESPN got off to a ratings fast break with its April 24 doubleheader telecast.

Its Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls contest averaged a 2.5 rating, up 25% over the 2.0 rating garnered for its Indiana Pacers-Boston Celtics 2005 playoff-opening contest. The second game of the Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Clippers series garnered a 2.1 rating, up 17% compared with last year's 1.8 rating for the Sacramento Kings-Seattle Supersonics telecast in the same telecast window, according to network executives.

TNT’s first nine NBA playoff telecasts averaged a 2.3 household rating, on par with last year’s performance, according to network executives.

TNT executives said ratings will most likely rise as the network begins exclusive coverage of the semifinal and final rounds of the Western Conference championships. With a regional-sports-network blackout for those telecasts, several potential series -- including a possible Los Angeles Clippers-Los Angeles Lakers second-round matchup -- could lift network ratings.

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