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NBA Playoff Ratings Up Across The Board In Round 1

Ratings are getting a big lift after being down in 2020.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

NBA television ratings are storming back from a double-digit deficit late in the fourth quarter. Numbers from the first round are up, and they are sure to put a smile on the faces in New York City and Secaucus, New Jersey. 

The league averaged 3.06 million viewers across ESPN, ABC, and TNT during the first round of the playoffs. That is the highest average mark in three years and represents a 46% increase from the same time in last year’s COVID-induced Orlando bubble. The numbers are a 3% increase going back to the last “normal” year in 2019.

There was just one Game 7 in the entire first round, but it paid off big time in the tracking data. Sunday’s series finale between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers in Staples Center was the most-watched game of the first round. 

The dominant closeout performance by Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers averaged 5.49 million viewers on ABC. Ratings jumped 43%, and viewership went up 62% from ABC’s first-round Game 7 last year. A Nuggets victory over the Jazz on a Tuesday night in September.

TNT set a new mark for 2021 along the way. Thursday’s Game 6 battle between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers averaged 4.5 million viewers on TNT — the network’s largest opening round audience since 2018. The last season Lebron James spent in Cleveland brought in big ratings. Game 4 between the Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers that year posted 6.07 million viewers.

Looking ahead to the first couple of second-round games and it’s more good news for the NBA compared to last season. Sunday’s Game 1 matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the second round averaged 3.39 million viewers on ABC, up 102% from Celtics-Raptors on ESPN in a similar window but down 19% from Celtics-Bucks on ABC in 2019.

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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NFL Studio

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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Wild Card
David Berding/Getty Images

There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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