Despite Postseason Dip, Turner Still Up on NBA

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Turner Sports executives remain upbeat about National Basketball Association postseason ratings, despite a 12-percent ratings decline during the first round of the playoffs.

Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation averaged a combined 2.1 rating for 20 telecasts, compared with a 2.4 rating for 21 first-round games in 2000, said Turner Sports senior vice president of public relations Greg Hughes. Last year's numbers were aided by one extra Game-5 telecast of the best-of-five playoff round.

Playoff-ratings fixtures such as the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Miami Heat have already been eliminated from the tournament, but Hughes believes the remaining teams will generate a strong following and boost ratings.

"All the teams left are attractive and are the best teams in the league," Hughes said.

Turner is also struggling to meet ratings expectations for its coverage of the Women's United Soccer Association.

Through three telecasts, TNT has averaged a 0.4 rating, just short of the 0.5 to 0.7 the network and league executives projected for the professional league's inaugural season.

WUSA founder and Discovery Networks U.S. chairman and CEO John Hendricks said he's pleased with the public's early response to the league.

"I think the early read is what we expected," he said. "We hope to build to a 0.7 to 0.8 as viewers become more familiar with the league."

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