Ratings Roundup: Celts-Heat Game 4 Hits All-Time NBA High for ESPN; Stanley Cup Final Bombs
By: Jason Dachman, Managing Editor
Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 9:50 am

The battle of the big threes (minus the Heat’s injured Chris Bosh) has proven to be a huge hit for ESPN, as Games 3, 4, and 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals have each drawn massive audiences.

The highlight of the Celtics-Heat series was Game 4, which notched the second largest audience ever for NBA game on cable (11.07 million viewers), trailing only 11.11 million for Heat-Bulls Game last year) and the largest NBA audience ever on ESPN (dates back to 2002-03 season).

Though not as big a draw as Game 4, Game 5 of the Heat-Celtics series drew 7.59 million viewers on ESPN Friday night, making it the second most viewed NBA telecast ever on ESPN and the sixth-most viewed NBA game ever on cable. Viewership was up 23% from Mavericks/Thunder Game 3 on a Saturday night last year (6.175M).

Game 3 of the was less impressive, but still drew a solid 7.593 million viewers on ESPN Friday night, up 23% from Mavericks/Thunder Game 3 on a Saturday night last year (6.175M). Compared to Bulls/Heat Game 3 on TNT last year, which aired on a Sunday night, Friday’s viewership declined by 30% from 10.889 million…

…Meanwhile out West, Game 5 of the Thunder/Spurs NBA Western Conference Finals drew 8.507 million viewers on TNT Monday night, down 18% from Heat/Bulls Game 5 on a Thursday night last year (10.407M). Compared to Thunder/Mavericks Game 5 on ESPN last year, viewership rose 21% from 7.012 million. Monday’s game ranks as the most-viewed Western Conference Finals telecast that did not involve the Lakers since the current television contracts went into effect in the 2002-03 season…

…On the ice, the Stanley Cup Final has failed to live up to the big ratings posted by the earlier playoff rounds.

Game 3 of the Devils/Kings Stanley Cup Final drew 1.743 million viewers on NBC Sports Network Monday night, down 37% from Canucks/Bruins Game 3 last year (2.757M). The telecast ranks as the least-viewed Stanley Cup Final telecast, regardless of network, since Ducks/Senators Game 3 on NBC in 2007 (1.631M).

Game 2 posted a 1.7 final rating and 2.9 million viewers on NBC Saturday night, down 23% in ratings and 18% in viewership from Bruins/Canucks Game 2 last year (2.2, 3.569M). The game ranks as the lowest rated Stanley Cup Final telecast on broadcast since Ducks/Senators Game 3 in 2007 (1.1), which also aired on a Saturday night. Overall, the 1.7 rating is the fourth lowest for a Stanley Cup Final game on broadcast since the event returned to broadcast television in 1995…

…CBS Sports’ coverage of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday afternoon delivered an average 3.8 household rating, the highest overnight rating for the final round of the golf tournament in eight years. The tournament, which saw Tiger Woods win the Memorial a record fifth time to tie Jack Nicklaus with 73 PGA Tour wins, was up 138% from last years 1.6 rating in the metered markets. Sunday’s final-round rating peaked during the last half-hour of the broadcast at a 5.7. Third-round coverage on Saturday afternoon earned an average 2.5 overnight household rating, up 67% from last year’s 1.5 in the metered markets…

…With the latest Nielsen data pointing to last month as the most-watched May ever for Golf Channel, viewership for the network is off to its best start in its 17-year history. Through May, average viewers are up 20% over 2011 and 52% over the same time period two years ago. Four out of five months in the books so far this year – and the last consecutive four months – have set a “most-watched” record for that month…

This growth was highlighted on Monday by Golf Channel’s Golf’s Longest Day U.S. Open Qualifying coverage, which netted 91,000 average viewers for the day, up 75% over last year.

The first week of the French Open served up record ratings for the Tennis Channel. From May 27-June 2, the network’s live match coverage snagged an average 0.61 rating, up 17% from last year (Cynopsis Sports)…

…On Monday SNY drew 744,000 Total Viewers tuned in from 9:45 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. to watch Johan Santana pitch the first no-hitter in New York Mets history.  In the peak quarter-hour (9:45 to 10:00 p.m.), the game registered a 7.73 household rating in the New York DMA. SNY also ranked as the most watched station in the market from 7:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. – out-rating every cable and broadcast station in the New York DMA (in both TV Households and Total Viewers).  In addition, Johan Santana’s no-hitter on SNY averaged a 4.18 household rating, which represents the highest-rated primetime game (non-interleague) in nearly three years.

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