As its National Basketball Association ratings continue to fall, Turner Sports hopes a robust and exciting playoff run will help boost NBA numbers going into the second half of the season.
At the season's halfway mark, Turner's combined Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation NBA coverage is averaging a 1.1 rating, down slightly from a 1.3 rating at the same point last year. Turner Sports senior vice president of public relations Greg Hughes said ratings were adversely affected by the extended election coverage and that numbers have improved steadily since mid December.
Still, Turner's Feb. 10 nine-hour pre-All-Star Game coverage-which included the slam dunk contest and the "2Ball" competition featuring Women's National Basketball Association stars-drew a 3.4 rating, down from last year's 3.9 but up from 1998's 3.0 showing. There was no NBA All-Star Game in 1999, due to the owner's lockout.
Hughes believes the playoff push will generate more excitement and higher ratings for the league and its telecasts.
"All the games take on more meaning because the playoff push is on, and there are some exciting teams that will catch on with viewers," Hughes said. "We certainly are cautiously optimistic."