ESPN Dunks Most-Viewed NBA Season


ESPN heads into the NBA playoffs, which tip off tomorrow, with its most-viewed regular-season in its pocket.
The network averaged 1.68 million viewers over 71 2008-09 regular-season contests, a 14% gain from 1.47 million in the prior campaign, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That performance was ESPN's best ever with its pro hoops games coverage, according to network officials.
For the season, ESPN averaged a 1.3 household rating, matching the prior year, with households ahead 8% to just under 1.3 million, compared with 1.21 million.
On the demo side, ESPN's NBA game coverage improved 14% among people 25 to 54, 13% among persons 18-49 and 11% among persons 18 to 34. Further, ESPN notched a 9% gain among men 25 to 54, 8% growth with guys 18 to 49 and a 7% advance with males 18 to 34.
For its part, broadcast brethren ABC scored a 16% gain to 3.68 million viewers on average for 18 games, versus 3.18 million for 19 telecasts in the 2007-08 regular season, according to Nielsen.
ABC officials said that performance was the network's best in the last six NBA campaigns. From a ratings perspective, ABC was up 5% to a 2.3 national rating, with households improving 10% to 2.69 million.
The Alphabet dunked double-digit gains with all six of the aforementioned demo groups.
All told, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine on 44 post-season NBA telecasts, beginning with a quadrupleheader of opening games on April 18: Chicago at Boston at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN; Detroit at Cleveland at 3 p.m. on ABC; Dallas at San Antonio at 8 p.m. on ESPN; and Houston and Portland at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.
ABC will televise the NBA Finals in June.