The NBA regular-season ends tonight and TNT will close the books with its largest average audience in 13 years.
The drama network, which netted a host of double-digit demographic gains, scored a 14% increase in total viewers to 1.71 million over 53 telecasts, up from 1.49 million for 52 contests last season, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That was TNT's top audience mark since the 1995-96 campaign, according to network officials.
Led by the Feb. 5 Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics game, a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, TNT averaged a 1.1 U.S. household rating (1.3 cable) up 4%, while notching a 5% improvement in homes to 1.29 million. The Celts-Lakers game posted a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.36 million viewers, the most for any NBA matchup on cable this season.
On the demo front, TNT's NBA action delivered a 13% rise among adults 18 to 34 (543,000 from 479,000), 17% amelioration with adults 18 to 49 (980,000 from 835,000) and a 16% advance with adults 25 to 54 (881,000 from 760,000.)
Not surprisingly, there was also growth among guys: 7% with men 18 to 34 (403,000 from 377,000), 12% among men 18 to 49 (691,000 from 617,000) and 12% against men 25 to 54 (614,000 from 547,000).
"This marks the second consecutive year of overall growth for our exclusive Thursday night coverage of the NBA," said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales, Inc. and Turner Sports, in a statement. "The NBA continues to be a very strong property, and we are thrilled to partner with a league that shares our commitment to deliver a quality product to fans."
TNT tips off its annual "40 Games in 40 Nights" coverage of the pro hoops playoffs with a tripleheader on April 19. This year, the network will provide exclusive coverage of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.