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Double-doubles are a good thing for basketball players.

Good for the networks that carry the games, too -- as in double-digit gains in viewers and demographics.That’s where national cable carriers TNT and ESPN were with the first round of the NBA playoffs.

And why not? Both networks posted double-digit ratings and segment increases during the 2007-08 regular season, one of the most exciting in league history. A record 11 teams finished with 50 or more wins, including all eight in the Western Conference! In the tightest race I can ever remember  -- the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers had tk victories, while eighth place Denver Nuggets panned TK. Final seedings were not decided until the final-night of the regular-season.

There was more good fortune in the first round. Utah -Houston, Cleveland-Washington both went to six games. Even the Philadelphia 76ers won a couple, before succumbing to the Detroit Pistons.

On the down side, the much-hyped San Antonio-Phoenix match-up fizzled in five, as the Suns never recovered from Mike D’Antonio’s sideline meltdowns in Game 1 -- would somebody please give the foul when you’re up three in the waning moments. More importantly, the Big Cactus-Big Fundamental contest didn’t take place in the second round or later, when the numbers build.

Now, TNT, ESPN and ABC, which was up 19% to a tk.k average with its first four contests, are staring at population realities: the West balls big on court, but small in the DMAs.

Sure, LA trails only New York (don’t laugh, the Isaiah-less Knicks could return to the playoffs before this decade ends) in terms of size. But Salt Lake City, home to the Kobe’s second-round opponent, the Jazz ranks 35th on the Nielsen local market chart.

Still, that’s two places higher than San Antonio. The best team in pro sports -- four titles in the past nine years – has never gotten much national respect or viewership -- invades the New Orleans Hornets, led by the man who should be named NBA MVP Chris Paul (one game behind the Lakers without nearly as much talent). The Crescent City may be a great place for tourists or conventioneers, but it’s the NBA’s smallest market: No. 53.

Back East, the familiar group of Pistons -- Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton and Tashawn Prince have seemingly been together for a generation – represent Nielsen’s 11th seed, Detroit. The veteran group will try to go around the game’s budding best big man, Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Mickey may be king in Central Florida, but Orlando-Melbourne only rank 19th where TV homes are concerned.

Both Pistons-Magic and Hornets-Spurs offer on-court intrigue, but starting the first game of both series on a Saturday night, against a NASCAR race on Fox, may make for low Nielsen scores.

Then, there’s the little matter of Game 7 in Boston at 1 p.m. (ET) tomorrow afternoon. The decisive game should yield big numbers for ABC, which follows with the Jazz at Staples Center Lakers, in the second round for the first time in four seasons, at 3:30 p.m.

But what if the Celtics choke? Or Joe Johnson plays or Al Horford play out of their minds for Atlanta?

The Hawks, after a nine-season absence from the playoffs, winning a couple of games is a great story. But executives in New York, Atlanta and Bristol, Conn. need the Cs. Otherwise, the largest turnaround in NBA history—ahd – and veterans Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Not only does the hope of the league’s ultimate match -- Boston and LA adding another chapter to their storied history -- air ball, but so does an attractive court date with the King, LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, doesn’t hit the nets. The presumed Eastern Conference final series against the Pistons also goes packing.

And maybe James leads the Cavs out of the East, where the Spurs, after upsetting both the Hornets and Lakers, look to repeat. Surely, the TV sports community doesn’t want that: last year’s San Antonio sweep averaged an NBA Finals’ low 6.2 rating. 

When all is said and done, nobody wants a repeat

Sounds like KG needs a double-double Sunday afternoon.

Godthin fornetwo first rond \double digt gain in viewersasna key deomso

Any wyh not, fatgerat regulrs sason, growth there

Wedst tigh 11 50 win teams

Lot oaf tinati

Also got some bost

But a lite dicey now in Bernotnw , Celts have been estend to seven ame by newbit Hawks.

Exetuve aourn fhte lage and network, have tgo be ways

Greated t rtunrd league history

 Big 3 undowb eby upstantMike Woodson

Grat story , Ojoe Johan

Buidlng to newt year

But open a trp door rests of payosfs

Dryg as big cactu

But first round, top gains

Not in seonc dround

Good news Lakers their bad news small market Utajh Jazz

Crhis Pual , orbal dsercing NBS MVP   small market as are NBA Spurs

For its first 17 telecasts of the NBA Playoffs through April 28, TNT is averaging a 2.1 U.S. rating, up 20% from the same period last season. The net has also seen a 22% jump in HHs, as well as gains over 30% in all key demos, including adults and males 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54. TNT's telecast of Suns-Spurs Game Two on April 22, which averaged 4.4 million viewers, is the postseason's most-viewed game on cable. On ESPN for its playoff coverage is averaging a 2.4 coverage rating and 3.0 million viewers through seven telecasts, up 20.0% and 33.1%, respectively, from a 2.0 rating and 2.3 million viewers through the same point in the playoffs last season. ESPN has won the male 18-34 demo on cable for all three nights of its NBA playoff telecasts to date, seeing a 33% gain in the demo compared to same point last post-season. ESPN2, which has had one telecast (Pistons-76ers Game Three), averaged a 0.8 coverage rating (1.0 million viewers), up from a 0.5 rating and 470,000 viewers for Raptors-Nets Game Three last year (THE DAILY).

REGIONAL NOTES: Sun Sports' telecast of the series-clinching Magic-Raptors Game Five on Monday night drew a 4.6 HH rating and 65,000 HHs in the Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne market. The game marked the highest-rated and most-viewed Magic telecast on the net since '03, and was the No. 1 rated cable program in the market during the time period (Sun Sports)....Ratings for the three Hawks-Celtics games that have appeared on TNT have averaged a 2.2 national rating, but they "have averaged better than [double] that at 4.6" for local TNTratings in the Atlanta market (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/29).

The NBA finals were a television bust. San Antonio's four-game sweep of Cleveland finished with a record-low 6.2 television rating and 11 share on ABC, Nielsen Media Research said Friday.

San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker (9), from France, holds the MVP trophy after the Spurs win their fourth NBA Championship with a 83-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thursday, June 14, 2007, in Cleveland. Spurs owner Peter Holt celebrates, bottom right. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

That was down 27 percent from the 8.5/15 for Miami's six-game victory over Dallas last year and 5 percent under the previous low, a 6.5/12 for San Antonio's six-game win over New Jersey in 2003. The NBA finals averaged 9.3 million viewers this year.San Antonio's series-winning 83-82 victory on Thursday night got a 6.5/12, down 17 percent from the 7.8/14 for Game 4 last year.

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