The National Basketball Association season has gotten off to a quick start on Turner Network Television and ESPN.
TNT’s exclusive coverage of a pair of opening-night matchups Oct. 28 averaged a 2.7 household rating, a 60% jump from the doubleheader that tipped off the 2002-03 season.
The Phoenix Suns-San Antonio Spurs opener netted a 2.4 household rating, while the second game of Tuesday night's doubleheader between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks posted a 3.0 household mark.
The latter was the best for a regular-season game on TNT since the Oct. 30, 2001, contest between the Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks, when Michael Jordan returned to the league.
The doubleheader marked TNT’s best opening-night performance since Feb. 5, 1999 (Knicks-Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets-Lakers), which averaged a 2.8 rating in the debut of the league’s labor-shortened season.. The household delivery of 2.34 million homes for Tuesday night’s doubleheader is the largest-ever for opening-night action for TNT, dating back to 1984.
ESPN, meanwhile, averaged a 2.3 for its pair of contests Oct. 29, up 44% from its opening-night doubleheader last season. The Knicks-Magic matchup drew a 1.9 household rating, while the debut of rookie LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers against the Sacramento Kings recorded a 2.8.
The latter contest was the second-highest-rated NBA regular-season game for ESPN, topped only by the 3.8 dunked by the Jan. 17 game between the Rockets and Lakers, the first head-to-head battle between Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal.
ESPN and TNT are in the second of six-year deals with the pro-hoops league.