ESPN2 Posts Gains With WNBA Finals Coverage

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The second WNBA championship for the Seattle Storm resulted in improved ratings for ESPN2.

The network averaged a 0.4 cable rating, 422,000 households and 516,000 viewers, according to Nielsen data, with its coverage of Games 2 and 3 of Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, Swin Cash and crew's three-game sweep of the Atlanta Dream. ABC aired the opener, averaging 450,000 viewers, 100,000 fewer than ESPN2 garnered with the initial matchup of the 2009 WNBA Finals between the Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever.

The performances for Game 2 and 3 marked gains of 15% and 20%, respectively, over the corresponding contests of last year's WNBA Finals, when the Mercury took the Fever in five games. Measured against those two contests on ESPN2 in 2008 -- when Detroit swept San Antonio in three -- Storm-Dream doubled the 0.2 rating, scored a 79% gain in households and a 73% rise in viewership from 299,000. 

For the three games of the 2010 WNBA Finals, ESPN/ABC averaged 494,000 viewers, down 10% from  the 2009 championship series, which averaged 548,000 viewers when all of the contests ran on ESPN2.  Phoenix-Indiana's final tally benefited from 670,000 and 656,000 watchers for Games 4 and 5, respectively. The 2009 WNBA Finals topped the 316,000 for Detroit-San Antonio in 2008 by 73.4%.

ESPN2 officials said the network's coverage of Seattle-Atlanta on Sept. 14 and 16 produced double-digit advances across all male demos, notably a 90% jump among guys 18 to 34. 

The Storm's crowning third-game triumph on Sept. 16 averaged 437,000 homes and 545,000 viewers, gains of 32% and 40% percent, respectively, from the third game of the 2009 series. 

In Seattle, the Sept. 16 telecast earned a 3.8 overnight rating, the highest local WNBA rating on ESPN or ESPN2 for any market since the 4.0 in the Hartford DMA for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals between Connecticut and Sacramento on Sept. 15, 2005.

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