It's been well reported that NBA live game telecasts in this
abbreviated season are producing gangbuster viewership increases for TNT, and
solid increases for ESPN and ABC. Lost in all the hoopla, however, have been
NBA TV's ratings which, on a percentage increase basis, are doing better than the
Some will want to dismiss NBA TV as having not enough viewers to make
a significant blip, but to sports advertisers, every little bit helps if the ad
pricing is a slam dunk.
Clearly, advertisers on NBA TV are not paying the rates they are
on the other telecast partners, but the results speak for themselves. Albeit on
a much, much smaller viewer base, NBA
TV's viewership for 73 live games is up 36% to 344,000 viewers per
game. On a percentage basis that is higher than the 21% viewer increase at TNT,
the 9% increase at ABC and the 6% increase at ESPN.
Other live game first quarter demo increases include: adults
18-34, up 50% to 108,000; adults 18-49, up 34% to 181,000; men 18-34, up 51% to
80,000; and men 18-49, up 35% to 138,000. The median age of the network is
34.9, the youngest of any sports network.
Beyond the averages, NBA TV's Fan Night game on March 13 featuring
the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic delivered 643,000 total viewers, the ninth
most-watched game in NBA TV's history. Clearly, matchups matter, and while NBA
TV doesn't get first dibs of games ahead of the league's other TV partners, the
results were encouraging.
In addition to more pure viewer interest in the NBA, another likely
cause of the increase in viewership is that for the month of January-the
first full month of coverage of this pro basketball season-NBA TV topped all
cable networks in month over month U.S. distribution growth. NBA TV was
available in 59.2 million homes in January 2012, compared to 55.8 million in
December 2011, a 6% increase.
The network no doubt also got an assist from the carriage fee
dispute between Time Warner Cable and MSG Network. From Jan. 1 to mid-February,
Time Warner replaced MSG with NBA TV on its digital sports tier.
The net-net is that live game viewership on NBA TV rose
significantly, and advertisers have to be pleased-so much so that, despite the
network's size compared to the league's other partners, NBA TV has been able to
garner lots of new advertisers. More than 30 new advertisers have joined NBA TV
for the current season, including Acura, American Airlines, Ford, LG
Electronics, Sprint, Reebok and Wendy's.
That number is on top of 70 new advertisers who joined the network
last season, and on top of 40 new advertisers the prior year. Turner Sports
has been selling advertising for NBA TV since 2008, when Turner
assumed responsibility for programming, marketing and technical operations for
NBA TV is planning comprehensive coverage of the NBA playoffs,
including live first-round game telecasts, studio coverage with pre- and
post-game analysis, post-game press conferences and replays of every playoff
For advertisers looking to reach a younger, committed, targeted
male audience, NBA TV seems like a solid buy for the remainder of the season.