The Miami Heat wasn't the only big winner in the LeBron James free agent sweepstakes.
Sun Sports, the regional sports network that holds the team's TV rights, figures to ring up significant gains in ratings and advertising with James and Chris Bosh joining Dwayne Wade on the Heat's roster for the 2010-11 season. The team stopped selling season tickets earlier today, presumably ahead of a hike in pricing.
James, who was widely reported to be heading to the squad that Wade led to the NBA title in 2006, officially announced his call on The Decision, a special that aired on ESPN on July 8 at 9 p.m. The show was engineered by LRMR, James's marketing company, with proceeds from sponsors being donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America.
James made his announcement -- "This fall, I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat." -- from the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. in an interview by freelancer by Jim Gray, who was handpicked by LRMR..
During the 2009-10 season, Sun Sports averaged a 2.51 rating over 71 games in the Miami DMA, according to Nielsen data. That was down 6% from a 2.68 average in the 2008-09 campaign.
Conversely, Fox Sports Ohio, which holds the TV rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers, James's squad for the first seven years of his NBA career, figures to take a ratings hit. Last season, FS Ohio -- which has no doubt benefited from a home state factor, James is an Akron native -- posted an 8.55 rating with 70 games in the Cleveland DMA, the top mark for a regional with NBA telecasts. That average represented a 3% decline from an 8.77 mark during the 2008-09 campaign.
In addition to the Heat and Cavaliers, James and his representatives met with the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers during his much-ballyhooed free-agent courtship.