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Basketball Fan
04-19-2011, 01:40 PM
http://www.sportsmediawatch.net/2011/04/nba-playoffs-tnt-has-best-ever-start-to.html


Monday, April 18, 2011
NBA Playoffs: TNT Has Best-Ever Start to Postseason
The 2011 NBA Playoffs got off to a record start on TNT, which had the most-viewed opening day of the postseason in Turner Sports' 27 years covering the NBA.

TNT averaged a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.542 million viewers for NBA Playoff coverage on Sunday, up 27% in ratings and 36% in viewership from last year (2.2, 3.336M), and the most-viewed opening day of the playoffs ever on Turner Sports.

In particular, Sunday's Knicks/Celtics Game 1 drew a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.989 million viewers, up 44% in ratings and 53% in viewership from last year (SA/DAL G1: 2.5, 3.925M), and up 64% and 86%, respectively, from 2009 (MIA/ATL G1: 2.2, 3.228M).

The Celtics' win drew more viewers than every single first round playoff game -- on broadcast or cable -- last season.

In addition, the game ranks as the second-most viewed first round game ever on cable, behind only Bulls/Celtics Game 7 in 2009 (6.987M). The previous second-ranked game was Celtics/Bulls Game 6 in 2009 (5.352M).

Later in the night, Game 1 between the Nuggets and Thunder drew a 3.1 and 5.038 million viewers, up 55% in ratings and 69% in viewership from last year (POR/PHX G1: 2.0, 2.988M), and up 55% and 83%, respectively, from 2009 (NO/DEN G1: 2.0, 2.756M).

Though it did not receive as much hype as Knicks/Celtics, Nuggets/Thunder drew more viewers than every single first round game on cable last year.

In the early afternoon, Grizzlies/Spurs Game 1 drew a 2.0 and 2.836 million viewers. There was no game in the comparable timeslot (1 PM ET) last year or in 2009.

For comparison purposes, the first game of last year's tripleheader (CHA/ORL G1, 5:30 PM ET) drew a 2.0 and 3.116 million viewers, and the first game of the 2009 tripleheader (PHI/ORL G1, 5:30 PM ET) drew a 1.8 and 2.756 million.

(Numbers from Turner Sports)

makaveli
04-19-2011, 01:44 PM
Not surprising...this first round has been "March Madness-esque" so far. Most exciting 1st rd that I can remember.

MyFavMartin
04-19-2011, 02:20 PM
I wish the POs wouldn't drag on like they do... The next round of games take forever to get through. TV scheduling... :rolleyes:

d_c
04-19-2011, 02:58 PM
Seems people are still watching despite all the supposed hate for superteams and superfriends. Evidently this is still a pretty compelling product for a lot of people..

MrSparko
04-19-2011, 03:02 PM
No clearly there needs to be more equality or else the NBA will fold. We need to go back to the 1980s where all 20+ teams had a chance to win every year. How can the NBA survive with only a few super teams and stars?

BillS
04-19-2011, 03:11 PM
If the popularity is all based on superteams and superfriends what happens when the "superteam" talent is fairly mediocre? When LBJ et al get over the hill there's no guarantee there will be anyone to follow them immediately.

ANYTHING is successful when the product is fantastic. The bump is because of the increase in interest due to change as much as because people somehow suddenly love the NBA.

The question is, can the league survive another drought like the one after the Jordan years, when every freaking good player was being hyped (unsuccessfully) as the "next" Jordan?

Use the popularity being generated TODAY to build LONG-TERM loyalty to the game, and you won't have to answer that question.

Or, quit fooling around and go ahead and contract to 6 superteams. Quit causing owners and cities to throw good money after bad.

d_c
04-19-2011, 03:26 PM
If the popularity is all based on superteams and superfriends what happens when the "superteam" talent is fairly mediocre? When LBJ et al get over the hill there's no guarantee there will be anyone to follow them immediately.

ANYTHING is successful when the product is fantastic. The bump is because of the increase in interest due to change as much as because people somehow suddenly love the NBA.

The question is, can the league survive another drought like the one after the Jordan years, when every freaking good player was being hyped (unsuccessfully) as the "next" Jordan?

Use the popularity being generated TODAY to build LONG-TERM loyalty to the game, and you won't have to answer that question.

Or, quit fooling around and go ahead and contract to 6 superteams. Quit causing owners and cities to throw good money after bad.

FWIW, the elite European soccer leagues (EPL and La Liga in particular) have the kind of inequality in terms of finances and competitive balance that dwarfs that of the NBA. Yet nobody seems to worry about those leagues losing fans.

And right after the NBA lost Jordan, they did eventually find their next Jordan (Kobe not to mention Lebron). They had to fight through a small drought due to the the lockout, but then they got right back into their groove. The Lakers built another dynasty along with the Spurs. People watched.

Truth be told, the NBA would have no qualms if it went back to the 80s and it was just the Lakers vs. Celtics every other year playing each other. It would be an easy cash cow. Contrast this with something like 2005 with the Spurs and Pistons in the Finals (which was one of the most well played, competitive and dramatic Finals series I've ever seen). That was a great series, but their ratings took a hit.

BillS
04-19-2011, 03:46 PM
FWIW, the elite European soccer leagues (EPL and La Liga in particular) have the kind of inequality in terms of finances and competitive balance that dwarfs that of the NBA. Yet nobody seems to worry about those leagues losing fans.

I think that is the ultimate proof of the formula about building loyalty to teams, not just great players. They are huge on their players but fans grow up loving their team whether or not they have the flavor of the month.


Truth be told, the NBA would have no qualms if it went back to the 80s and it was just the Lakers vs. Celtics every other year playing each other. It would be an easy cash cow. Contrast this with something like 2005 with the Spurs and Pistons in the Finals (which was one of the most well played, competitive and dramatic Finals series I've ever seen). That was a great series, but their ratings took a hit.

So wouldn't it be better if the Spurs/Pistons stuff was was through the roof like the Lakers/Celtics stuff? Wouldn't it make a better league AND bring in more (and more consistent) money? Isn't having a majority of franchises AND the NBA as a brand profitable better than having a few franchises super profitable and neglecting the rest so the brand can be profitable?

The "cash cow" is easy, and I'm afraid the NBA falls into the trap of milking it until it is dry and then going to look for another cow. If they find it in time, great. If not ... oops.

I think the league was starting to suffer before LBJ came along, because Kobe and Shaq vs no one else anyone really was excited about didn't work out well money-wise. You need someone else to play against, which is why I think the "superfriends" will work out for a while. But, again, marketing isn't about the easy path, it is about the one that helps you sustain the most consistent profits and growth. It's meant to help you minimize the variables over which you have no control - like if there will be another Greatest of All Time immediately following the current Greatest of All Time.

d_c
04-19-2011, 04:14 PM
I think that is the ultimate prrof of the formula about building loyalty to teams, not just great players. They are huge on their players but fans grow up loving their team whether or not they have the flavor of the month.



So wouldn't it be better if the Spurs/Pistons stuff was was through the roof like the Lakers/Celtics stuff? Wouldn't it make a better league AND bring in more (and more consistent) money? Isn't having a majority of franchises AND the NBA as a brand profitable better than having a few franchises super profitable and neglecting the rest so the brand can be profitable?

The "cash cow" is easy, and I'm afraid the NBA falls into the trap of milking it until it is dry and then going to look for another cow. If they find it in time, great. If not ... oops.

I think the league was starting to suffer before LBJ came along, because Kobe and Shaq vs no one else anyone really was excited about didn't work out well money-wise. You need someone else to play against, which is why I think the "superfriends" will work out for a while. But, again, marketing isn't about the easy path, it is about the one that helps you sustain the most consistent profits and growth. It's meant to help you minimize the variables over which you have no control - like if there will be another Greatest of All Time immediately following the current Greatest of All Time.


The league was suffering through the doldrums before Stern, the Lakers, Bulls and Celtics dynasties. They were on the verge of going out of business with playoff games on tape delay and empty seats. And those were the days when teams like the Warriors and Bullets were playing for championships.

As far as basketball goes, this is the stuff the average American sports fan can watch. They want to watch superpowers and superteams. Tennis was popular in America with rivalries between superstars in the 80s and 90s. Now there are no such rivalries and its popularity has taken a huge hit in this country, despite an incredible level in quality of play.

Similarly, the only reason people still care about college basketball is the tournament. The brackets, the upsets, the office pools. It's still popular despite often times there being poor quality of play and several elite level players being 1 and done and going straight to the NBA. People love a big, 64 team single elimination tournament where anything can happen.

Now if you made the NCAA tournament into a 2+ month war of attrition with best of 7 playoff series, you would take away the appeal of why people like March Madness and college bball. People would lose interest. So in the case of the NCAA, it's not the quality of the product that people care about, but the circumstances under which they're presented.

The NBA/Stern has thrived because it understands sports is an entertainment landscape and it caters to what casual American sports fans want to see. I'm sure the NBA themselves have no problems with a Spurs/Pistons finals (I sure didn't), but when they look at the ratings, they understand what the casual fan finds more compelling.

BillS
04-19-2011, 04:49 PM
I'm sure the NBA themselves have no problems with a Spurs/Pistons finals (I sure didn't), but when they look at the ratings, they understand what the casual fan finds more compelling.

Well, of course, the "conspiracy theory" builds on the idea that the NBA <i>does</i> have a problem with a Spurs/Pistons finals.

The situation in my mind, though, is that the NBA is riding on the coattails of those series that are compelling to the casual fan. Which is fine when they occur, but when they don't it is a problem.

If marketing people were to be willing to actually work on reaching that consistent market, they would be well served to look at turning those "casual" fans into "consistent" fans.

There's nothing that says you can't market the marquee matchups and hype the individual players. But, if you mix that with campaigns working to convert casual fans to consistent fans of their local team, you ADD the new casuals to the now higher across-the-board income base for the league. That helps everyone, especially the non-hype players.

An example - the "where amazing happens" ads, that essentially focus on the top of the top. As we've seen from the season highlights thread of a 37-win team, there are tons of "amazing" moments for every team in the course of a full season. Why not a version customized to the local team that runs on the local affiliate of network broadcast games (I think local ads for ESPN and NBATV and TNT can be done based on the service provider area as well, it isn't that hard). That means that people watching a hype matchup or player also see an ad for their local team and some of the great moments there.

Couldn't hoit...

Cactus Jax
04-19-2011, 04:52 PM
I still was shocked that New York/Boston game 1 wasnt on ABC, and now this further proves how stupid ABC was for opting for the Heat/76ers over that game. Just as many stars and 2 iconic teams > 1 "super" team.

TNT and ESPN/ABC will be fighting over who tries to get the games from the next round of Boston/New York vs Miami, that will clearly be the best series out of the 4 potential series to watch.

Unclebuck
04-19-2011, 05:00 PM
I still was shocked that New York/Boston game 1 wasnt on ABC, and now this further proves how stupid ABC was for opting for the Heat/76ers over that game. Just as many stars and 2 iconic teams > 1 "super" team.



That was not an option because the Bruins played in Boston on Saturday. So the Celtics could not play on Saturday. Although they could have scheduled the Celtics vs Knicks Sunday afternoon and move lakers vs Hornets to 7:00. But the Lakers game got better ratings Sunday

edit: by the way that is what they are doing Sunday. Lakers game is Sunday night, Celts game is late Sunday afternoon

Cactus Jax
04-19-2011, 05:03 PM
That was not an option because the Bruins played in Boston on Saturday. So the Celtics could not play on Saturday. Although they could have scheduled the Celtics vs Knicks Sunday afternoon and move lakers vs Hornets to 7:00. But the Lakers game got better ratings Sunday

Yeah I guess there's always other things going on besides basketball. Who knows what would have gotten better ratings if both were on ABC on Sunday, but we'll never know and there's always the respect to the champions thing that I understand.

Drewtone
04-19-2011, 05:06 PM
Funny, folks Stateside forget the NHL playoffs are on and I have to remind people up here that the NBA playoffs are on... which is also why I have to watch each game at home.

Eleazar
04-19-2011, 06:19 PM
What a surprise the game with two of the biggest markets, and two cities that are already huge rivals has big ratings. Seriously does that really surprise people?

If the NBA actually tried to get local fans excited about the Pacers I guarantee this Pacers/Bulls series would have some pretty high ratings. The problem is there are no commercials with the Pacers as a focus. Yeah you might get a quick glimpse of Granger, but nothing substantial when you consider every Celtic player is in half the commercial.

By the way if it was all about the superteams the Nuggets/Thunder series wouldn't have had such high ratings. The reason they have high ratings is because people in OKC are excited for their team.

Look at the 90's. This league was huge in the 90's not because of superteams, and not even because of Jordan. It was huge because people were excited about their teams. Even with Jordan there was enough talent everywhere that everyone thought they had a chance, and most of the time that talent was actually drafted by that team. People were invested in their teams, and who their team drafted. Not in the superstar that they hope their team will sign. While the league may have needed the superteams in the 80's to get out of the gutter, it didn't really take off until the 90's when people were excited for their own team.

Look at how the NFL has succeeded. They do two things differently. First they have every almost every game on a non-cable network to make sure they can reach maximum viewership. That is just a duh move, everyone with a TV can get local channels. Secondly it is about the teams not the players. When a player leaves a team you don't see a max exodus to that players new team, instead you either see everyone trash talk that player or say ok who is replacing him. Most of what the NFL does is either looking out for the health of the players, or to make the sport more entertaining. The refs do not give blatant favoritism to star players, or make calls based on reputation or anticipation. They make a call because there is a good reason to make a call. If they do throw a flag that shouldn't have the say my bad there was no foul keep playing.

There is integrity in the league and the game. There aren't huge discrepancies between NFL rules and college rules, and those that are different are usually there to make it more difficult not easier. They also are about skill, and don't punish the team. They are more equivalent to having the 3-point line farther out than defensive 3 seconds or the no charge area.


As far as European soccer goes, that has less to do with the model and more to do with tradition. In other words see MLB up until the NFL started to dominate. Just because they are successful isn't always because it is actually better, it might just be because the fandom, the tradition, and the history are so ingrained that it doesn't matter. If you do not have that you have to find another way to succeed. that is why the NFL has been so much more successful than the NBA.

P.S. Tennis seriously?!? You are going to compare a team sport with teams that are tied to specific cities and states to an individual sport that has no teams tied to specific cities and states. They are two completely different monsters, of course an individual sport is going to thrive off of individual success and rivalries.

shags
04-19-2011, 06:55 PM
Look at how the NFL has succeeded. They do two things differently. First they have every almost every game on a non-cable network to make sure they can reach maximum viewership. That is just a duh move, everyone with a TV can get local channels. Secondly it is about the teams not the players. When a player leaves a team you don't see a max exodus to that players new team, instead you either see everyone trash talk that player or say ok who is replacing him. Most of what the NFL does is either looking out for the health of the players, or to make the sport more entertaining. The refs do not give blatant favoritism to star players, or make calls based on reputation or anticipation. They make a call because there is a good reason to make a call. If they do throw a flag that shouldn't have the say my bad there was no foul keep playing.

There is integrity in the league and the game. There aren't huge discrepancies between NFL rules and college rules, and those that are different are usually there to make it more difficult not easier. They also are about skill, and don't punish the team. They are more equivalent to having the 3-point line farther out than defensive 3 seconds or the no charge area.




The NFL succeeds, in part, because each team has 1 game a week. You can plan around those, and it gives people something to talk about after the game, and in anticipation of the next one. And don't forget how huge fantasy football is either. The NFL is the only sport that can negotiate a contract for ALL of their games exclusively on non-cable networks. And the Super Bowl is such a huge event it doesn't really matter who plays in the game. People watch as much for the commercials and the halftime show as they do for the game.

Parity is not good for the NBA. Popularity was high in the 80's because it was essentially Lakers vs. Celtics. Any series they were in was compelling. We're in the same stage now. I think the NBA is best when you have 6 to 7 teams that are title contenders, and 6 to 7 teams that are irrelevant. Ideally, you'd want a few teams in the middle who are compelling as well.

The NBA - NFL comparison isn't a good one as far as popularity. I'm not sure any league can compete with the NFL in America.

idioteque
04-19-2011, 08:16 PM
The NBA - NFL comparison isn't a good one as far as popularity. I'm not sure any league can compete with the NFL in America.

You're probably right, but there would be more competition from the NBA if there was more parity. Look at how the playoffs have played out so far and look at the ratings.

d_c
04-19-2011, 08:45 PM
The NFL succeeds, in part, because each team has 1 game a week. You can plan around those, and it gives people something to talk about after the game, and in anticipation of the next one. And don't forget how huge fantasy football is either. The NFL is the only sport that can negotiate a contract for ALL of their games exclusively on non-cable networks. And the Super Bowl is such a huge event it doesn't really matter who plays in the game. People watch as much for the commercials and the halftime show as they do for the game.

Parity is not good for the NBA. Popularity was high in the 80's because it was essentially Lakers vs. Celtics. Any series they were in was compelling. We're in the same stage now. I think the NBA is best when you have 6 to 7 teams that are title contenders, and 6 to 7 teams that are irrelevant. Ideally, you'd want a few teams in the middle who are compelling as well.

The NBA - NFL comparison isn't a good one as far as popularity. I'm not sure any league can compete with the NFL in America.


The bottom line is football is a more popular sport than basketball in America. Always has been and always will be.

I mean, why is college football more popular than college basketball? Whatever the reason is, I'm pretty sure it isn't because people think college football, their BCS and their complete lack of a playoff system is somehow run better than college basketball, their postseason tournamount(s) and March Madness.

And football is a sport where there are essentially 22 players on both sides of the ball for each team, compared to 5 for basketball. Of course it's going to be harder for a single superstar to dominate. It's the nature of the game. Basketball is a sport where there are only 5 players at a time, and those 5 guys play both ends of the floor. And it's a game where the superstar can always get the ball. That has nothing to do with David Stern or Roger Goodell and everything to do with the nature of their respective games.

The main problem in the NBA is that there are 30 teams in the league while there are probably less than 10-12 true superstars at a time. And going a step further, often times those top 3-5 guys are substantially better than the guys #6-12. And even if you spread out those superstars, you'd still have more than half the league devoid of those game changing players. You won't have those issues in the college game because no player can stay longer than 4 years anyways. You can't establish a dynasty with the same set of players every year the way the Lakers/Spurs have done with Kobe/Duncan.

I used the tennis analogy to simply point out that peoplelike watching superstars, whether an individual sport or a team sport. The NBA chose to promote the individual superstar and superteam moreso than other leagues, and for them it's worked incredibly well, especially considering where they were before that.

Whatever you think of Stern and his methods, consider the fact that he has been wildly successful running the league for 30+ years. We're not talking about a 5-6 year blip on the radar. It's been an entire generation of success. He took a league/sport that was FAR behind MLB and NFL in terms of tradition and popularity and now has the NBA mentioned with them in the headlines. The people who ran the league before him had guys like Wilt, Russell, Elgin Baylor, Ocar Robertson and Kareem yet never came close having the type of success Stern had.

shags
04-19-2011, 08:52 PM
You're probably right, but there would be more competition from the NBA if there was more parity. Look at how the playoffs have played out so far and look at the ratings.

I don't think the close games have made much of a difference in the ratings thus far. The people who watched were probably tuning in anyway.

However, I do think that the competitiveness can keep the ratings up for the remainder of this round. For example, I think the fact that the Pacers have kept the games close will draw more viewers in than if they were blowouts.

Eleazar
04-19-2011, 10:16 PM
The NFL succeeds, in part, because each team has 1 game a week. You can plan around those, and it gives people something to talk about after the game, and in anticipation of the next one. And don't forget how huge fantasy football is either. The NFL is the only sport that can negotiate a contract for ALL of their games exclusively on non-cable networks. And the Super Bowl is such a huge event it doesn't really matter who plays in the game. People watch as much for the commercials and the halftime show as they do for the game.

Parity is not good for the NBA. Popularity was high in the 80's because it was essentially Lakers vs. Celtics. Any series they were in was compelling. We're in the same stage now. I think the NBA is best when you have 6 to 7 teams that are title contenders, and 6 to 7 teams that are irrelevant. Ideally, you'd want a few teams in the middle who are compelling as well.

The NBA - NFL comparison isn't a good one as far as popularity. I'm not sure any league can compete with the NFL in America.

I know there are no perfect examples, and if there was one it would be the NHL. The NFL is just a much better example to follow than European Soccer, MLB, or tennis. One of the major reasons why football over took baseball as being more popular is because the NFL had more parity.

Also we are talking about popularity of the league, not its championship series/game so the SB doesn't have much weight.

Also when you say 6 or 7 teams that are contenders and 6 or 7 that are irrelevant, that is awful similar to how the NFL is. Any given year there are 6 or 7 NFL teams that are completely a joke, and 6 or 7 teams that could when the championship, and the rest are in contention for the last few playoff spots.

BillS
04-20-2011, 11:00 AM
Parity is not good for the NBA. Popularity was high in the 80's because it was essentially Lakers vs. Celtics. Any series they were in was compelling. We're in the same stage now. I think the NBA is best when you have 6 to 7 teams that are title contenders, and 6 to 7 teams that are irrelevant. Ideally, you'd want a few teams in the middle who are compelling as well.

This makes no sense to me. Are you saying this simply because that was the model when the league was popular in the 80s or do you think there is something about NBA basketball that only works if half the teams are non-competitive?

naptownmenace
04-20-2011, 12:22 PM
You're probably right, but there would be more competition from the NBA if there was more parity. Look at how the playoffs have played out so far and look at the ratings.

Parity is defined as:



Wikipedia - Parity (Sports)
Parity in sports is defined as attempting to make an equal playing field for all participants, specifically with regard to financial issues. When parity in a sports league is achieved, all participating teams enjoy roughly equivalent levels of talent. In such a league, the "best" team is not significantly better than the "worst" team.

The NBA will never meet this definition of parity and IMO, no league has true Parity. In each of the 4 major leagues only 1/3 of their teams finish the season with the chance to compete for a championship.

You have 16 teams in the NBA that make the postseason and that's more than the NFL and MLB despite having roughly the same number of teams in their respective leagues. So, the NBA actually gives more teams an opportunity to compete for a championship than MLB and the NFL.

Even though the balance of power has shifted to major market cities, the parity of the league is trending upwards. I'd also argue that looking at the playoffs this season actually points to an increase of parity, IMO.

There have been 13 games played and only 2 could be considered blowout games. The reason for this is that each of these teams have several talented players on their roster. Their talent may not be equal, which there have never been more than 3 or 4 teams in any season that have had equal or roughly equal talent, but there are 6 teams that realistically have enough talent to make it to the Finals and possibly win the Championship.

This postseason is a dream scenario for the NBA and they will make more money from this season than they have since 1998.

BillS
04-20-2011, 12:36 PM
The NBA will never meet this definition of parity and IMO, no league has true Parity. In each of the 4 major leagues only 1/3 of their teams finish the season with the chance to compete for a championship.

For me, I'll take a league where the "bottom tier" can beat the "top tier" on any given day but would not win in a series (which would be defined as "competing for a championship".

I don't want a league where the "bottom tier" might as well not bother showing up because they'll get blown out of the gym. In any given year a team or two might be that bad, or a team or two might be so good that it creates those blowouts, but the goal should be to have a league that isn't that lopsided.