NBA carriers TNT, ESPN and ABC enter the postseason looking to improve on their deliveries during the 2013-14 campaign.
The regular season played out with key injuries to such notables as the Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who missed much of a second straight season with a different knee surgery. Moreover, All-Stars Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook sat for extensive stretches for the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.
Perennial powers the Lakers and the Boston Celtics suffered through tough seasons, while the New York Knicks in the nation’s top DMA disappointed greatly. Another big market squad, the Philadelphia 76ers, narrowly avoided a record losing skein. None of those squads made the playoffs.
Conversely, teams like Indiana, Portland and Houston rose up in the standings and interest levels among NBA fans.
TNT averaged a 1.3 U.S. household rating and 2 million viewers for its primary Thursday night doubleheaders, according to Nielsen data. Those performances matched last year’s levels.
Since the All-Star break in mid-February, TNT’s Thursday night game telecasts averaged 1.9 million viewers, up 5% over last season’s 1.8 million, with the 1.3 rating ahead 8% from a 1.2.
Over the last five years, TNT has delivered four of its most-viewed seasons in its 30-year history with the league.
For its part, ESPN averaged a 1.1 U.S. household rating and 1.68 million viewers across 75 games, down 8% and 5% from a 1.2 and 1.77 million watchers during the 2012-13 season.
That being said, the 2013-14 season performance ranks among the worldwide leader’s top 5 over the past 12 seasons, with the rating matching four other seasons to rank fourth out of 12, according to ESPN officials.
It was a tough season on ABC, whose schedule was heavy with Lakers, Knicks and Bulls games. The broadcast network saw its household rating decline 21% to a 2.3 from a 2.9, while its audience receded 23% to 3.6 million from 4.7 million.
Since the 2002-03 season, viewership for national NBA regular-season action improved 26%, according to league officials.