The NBA is about to get back in full second-half swing tonight, but the first part of the pro hoops campaign has produced some intriguing on-court storylines, many of which have translated into big Nielsen advances for their regional sports network carriers.
Conversely, the numbers have not been as kind to RSNs covering teams that are experiencing disappointing seasons on the hardwood.
The Golden State Warriors, the team with the best record in the Association at the All-Star Break, scored well for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, which netted a 25% rise to a 3.81 household ratings average in the San Francisco DMA, according to Nielsen data.
The surprising Atlanta Hawks, which enter the second half of the season with the second best record in the leaqgue, notched a 71% rise in game telecast ratings on SportSouth to a 1.90 average in the Atlanta DMA, according to Nielsen data.
But those RSNs -- CSN Bay Area was eighth while SportSouth had the third best percentage amelioration from the corresponding stage of the 2013-14 campaign -- lag FS Wisconsin, which notched a 323% uptick to 2.24 mark with its game telecasts of the resurgent Milwaukee Bucks. That was the biggest increase of any RSN covering an NBA team.
With LeBron James returning home, FS Ohio recorded a regal 150% leap to a 7.29 average with Cavaliers telecasts in the Cleveland area. That marked the second highest percentage gain, with CSN Chicago fourth in that regard, scoring a 62% advance to a 4.74 average with Bulls battles in the Windy City.
Surprisingly, telecasts of Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets (nee Bobcats) were up 52% to a 1.14 mark through the first half of the season, the fifth highest percentage increase.
FS Southwest, which airs the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, dunked the highest game average with an 8.08 in the DMA, up 12% from last season. FS Southwest/San Antonio topped FS Ohio and the Cavaliers for top telecast average.
For its part, DirecTV’s Root Sports has recorded a 32% increase to a 1.56 mark in the Houston DMA with Rockets telecasts. Last season, CSN Houston had significantly less carriage than the current entity televising the team’s action.
On the down side, FS Midwest has sustained the biggest drop, shedding 54% of its average audience with telecast of the injury-depleted T-Wolves, as game telecasts declined to 1.18 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.
Altitude Sports has seen its audience erode by 53% -- the second biggest decline by percentage -- with Nuggets telecasts averaging a 0.95 in the Denver DMA.
FS Midwest’s telecasts of the disappointing Pacers – Paul George could return to spark a playoff run – decreased 37% to a 2.76 in the Indianapolis market.
The Nielsen news was not good in the Big Apple. YES Network’s coverage of Brooklyn Nets games dropped 29% to a 0.55 market, while MSG’s presentations of Knicks contests – the now Carmelo Anthony-less orange and blue are on pace for the franchise’s worst ever campaign – were down 28% to a 1.66 in the nation’s largest market.
The numbers aren’t much better in the No. 2 market, where Time Warner Cable SportNet were down 25% with Lakers telecast to a 2.02 mark in the Los Angeles DMA. With Kobe Bryant out for the balance of the season, the Lakers are on pace for one of their worst-ever finishes and could fall below last year’s lowest ever mark on the RSN. Lakers games were previously carried by FS West and KCAL.