'Linsanity' Heightens: MSG's Last Two Knicks' Telecasts Set Nielsen Records

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The famed "double nickel" game be damned: Jeremy Lin has knocked Michael Jordan from MSG Network's Nielsen record book.
The regional sports network's last two Knicks telecasts -- Friday, Feb. 17 against the New Orleans Hornets and Monday, Feb. 20 versus the New Jersey Nets -- now rank as its highest-rated regular-season presentations since MSG began tracking ratings at the tipoff of the 1988-89 NBA season. Ironically, the Nielsen "Linsanity" surrounding the Knicks' breakout point guard and now international star has hit high notes during a pair of losses.
The Feb. 17 telecast scored a 7.32 household rating in the New York DMA, translating into 540,788 households and 747,627 viewers, according to Nielsen. Those totals, according to preliminary figures, were topped on Monday night when the telecast scored a 7.34 preliminary rating, 542,265 households and 782,764 watchers. Final numbers for the Feb. 20 telecast won't be available until Feb. 22.
The two most recent games reflect the return of Time Warner Cable subscribers to MSG's viewing tent as the parties ended a protracted license fee dispute last Friday afternoon. MSG and sister service MSG Plus had been dark on the cable operator's New York systems serving 2.3 million subscribers in New York State since Jan. 1.
Both telecasts topped the previous regular-season high, a 6.78 household rating, for Jordan's famous "Double Nickel" game on March 28, 1995, when His Airness scored 55 points in his return to "the world's most famous arena" after his first NBA retirement.
Including playoff games, this weekend's two telecasts were the highest-rated events on the RSN since Game 6 of the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals when the Knicks defeated the Heat 72-70 a (a 7.85)  at the Garden.The highest-rated event ever on MSG was Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, which delivered a 16.18 household rating, when the New York Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 to win their first NHL title in 54 years.
"This is a basketball town and the Knicks' recent performance, combined with Jeremy Lin's compelling story, has created unparalleled demand for these games," said Michael Bair, president, MSG Media, in a statement. "With the Rangers in first place and the Giants coming off a Super Bowl win, this is a golden time for New York sports fans."

In the New York market on Feb. 17 from 7 p.m. - 11 p.m., only ABC's 20/20 (a 7.87) and CBS's Blue Bloods (a 7.33) outpaced MSG's Knicks telecast. MSG officials said the Friday and Monday night telecasts outperformed the average rating of every local network broadcast during their time periods. Friday night's game between 8 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. beat ABC (6.43), CBS (6.14), NBC (3.20) and Fox (1.68), while last night's telecast between 7:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. preliminarily outscored NBC (7.06), ABC (5.40), CBS (6.56) and Fox (3.19 HH).

Through the last seven games -- excluding the Monday night contest -- on MSG in which Lin has been the starting point guard, the Knicks' average household rating has increased 138% to a 4.30 rating and 317,676 households from its previous average of a 1.81 and 133,719 households over the prior 20 telecasts. With Lin in the starting lineup, the team has netted household ratings amelioration in five consecutive telecasts (six pending final numbers from Feb. 20): a 7.32 on Feb. 17 versus New Orleans; a 5.78 on Feb. 15 versus Sacramento; a 4.66 on Valentine's Day at Toronto; a 4.17 on Feb. 11 at Minnesota; and a 3.05 on Feb. 10 versus Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. MSG notched a 2.41 on Feb. 8 at Washington and a 2.68 on Feb. 6 against. Utah.

All told, Lin's presence in the starting lineup has spurred a 82% increase in the average season-to-date household rating compared to the first 27 games on MSG Network last season (a 2.46 versus a 1.35, 181,740 households compared with 101, 457 households). The seven games in which Lin has started also represents a 75% increase over the average season-to-date household rating (a 4.30 against a. 2.46; 317,676 households compared with 181,740).

The Knicks face the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden for a 7:30 p.m. matchup on MSG.

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