The excitement exuded by fans at the "World's Most Famous Arena" for Carmelo Anthony's first game as a member of the New York Knicks was amplified on small screens around the Big Apple as Madison Square Garden Network's coverage was its top regular-season contest with the NBA club in 16 years.
MSGN's presentation of the Knicks' 114-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden, during which Anthony scored 27 points, including two key hoops to seal the win and corralled 10 rebounds, averaged a 6.7 household rating and 507,285 households in the New York DMA, according to Nielsen data.
The Feb. 23 telecast was the MSGN's highest-rated regular-season Knicks game since March 28, 1995, when Michael Jordan famously dropped "a double nickel" at MSG. The telecast in which "His Airness" scored 55 against the orange and blue averaged a 6.78 household rating, according to MSGN officials.
The debut of Anthony, now pairing with fellow All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, enabled MSGN to dwarf its previous mark for the 2010-11 campaign, the 3.61 household rating and 271,303 homes the network garnered with its Dec. 15 coverage of the Knicks's 118-116 loss to the Boston. That had been MSGN's top Knicks telecast since the opening night of the 2001 season, when Michael Jordan's second return to pro basketball, that time with the Washington Wizards, drew a 4.76 rating on Oct. 30 that year.
With the big ratings boost from 'Melo's arrival last night, MSGN lifted its season average to a 1.62 rating in the New York DMA through 52 telecasts, up 60% from a 1.01 average last year.
Among guys 18 to 34, MSGN dunked an 8.42 rating last night with Knicks-Bucks, raising the RSN's demo average to a 2.3, up 147% from its 0.93 mark during the 2009-10 NBA season.
MSGN provided a long lead-in of sorts for the All-Star small forward, who, along with Chauncey Billups, was finally acquired from the Denver Nuggets for a host of Knicks players and other assets. Anthony was the subject of a "Melo Marathon," so to speak, that began at 10 a.m. yesterday. The network ran cut-down versions of Anthony's two games with the Nuggets against New York this year as Carmelo in 60 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. Those were followed by full versions of Anthony's debut at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 3, 2003 at noon, and his 50-point outburst versus the orange and blue on Nov. 27, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. In addition, MSGN's Al Trautwig provided live cut-ins and news updates from MSG Studios throughout the day.