The NBA and its national TV partners are set to provide complete 2013 playoff coverage coming off the league's second-most-watched, full regular season.
Trailing only the 2010-11 season, TNT’s 2012-13 campaign stands as the second-best over the course of its 29-year relationship with the pro hoops league, while ABC and ESPN netted their second-best season since they began airing game action in 2002-03. The just-completed season caps off a decade of viewership growth, with average audience up 37% to 2.17 million from 1.58 million, according to NBA officials.
National playoff coverage tips off with a pair of quadrupleheaders on April 20 and April 21. Saturday is The Walt Disney Co.'s day with the action beginning on ABC with the first game of the New York-Boston series at 3 p.m. (ET), followed by Golden State-Denver at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN. The worldwide leader also has the opener between Brooklyn-Chicago at 8 p.m. and a 10:30 p.m. nightcap, featuring the Los Angeles Clippers hosting the Memphis Grizzlies in a rematch of last year's series won by Chris Paul and crew in seven games.
TNT, which televises more NBA playoff games than any other network, steps onto the court Sunday at 1 p.m. with Indiana-Atlanta. ABC then shows the San Antonio-Los Angeles Lakers starter at 3:30 p.m., before the "drama" network returns with Miami-Milwaukee and Oklahoma City-Houston at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively.
NBA TV starts its playoff game coverage with the second Miami-Milwaukee encounter on April 23 at 7:30 p.m.
For its part, NBA TV recorded its most-watched full regular season, averaging 336,000 viewers for its 98-game slate, a 33% jump from 253,000 watchers in 2010-11. Results were buoyed by four of its top five game telecasts, respective audience increases of 87% and 17% for original series Open Court and The Association, and the most-viewed season ever for studio show NBA GameTime. NBA TV’s median age viewer is 35.1, the youngest of any sports network.
The NBA on TNT posted up a 1.4 U.S. household rating average and just over 2 million viewers for 52 telecasts during the 2012-13 regular season, delivering its third most-viewed and third highest-rated NBA regular season of all time. Compared with the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, TNT saw ratings decline 18% from a 1.7 mark and 20% in viewers from the record 2.49 million a year ago.
Gauged against the truncated season when fan interest was heightened by the compressed schedule, TNT’s NBA ratings were impacted during this campaign by Hurricane Sandy, which short-circuited electricity and Nielsen homes in such top markets as New York, Boston, Philadelphia at the start of the season. The Brooklyn Nets-New York Knicks season opener at the new Barclays Center was postponed by the storm. TNT also didn’t benefit from any Christmas contests this past season – the 2011 Knicks-Boston Celtics holiday game was its most-viewed that season with 5.86 million watchers. TNT officials said there were viewership declines in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami, Boston and Dallas.
ESPN averaged a 1.4 rating (down 7%) and 1.77 million viewers (off 5%) over 77 games (two contests were added during Miami’s 27-game winning streak), compared with a 1.5 rating and 1.86 million watchers over 75 telecasts during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. This season’s deliveries were down 7% and 11% behind the 2010-11 campaign, when it averaged a 1.5 and 2 million viewers, ESPN’s top full regular season with the NBA.
ESPN netted its best-ever Christmas tripleheader, averaging a 2.0 rating and 2.82 million viewers. It also set local market ratings marks in Memphis and Los Angeles.
ABC notched a 2.9 household and 4.7 million viewers over 15 games this past season, down from a 3.3 and 5.4 million for the same number of telecasts in the 2011-12 campaign. The broadcaster averaged a 3.0 rating and 5.1 million viewers in 2010-11, its top full regular season since it returned to the league, 3% and 7% above the 2012-13 campaign averages.