The National Basketball Association continues its gradual resurgence as a television property on the heels of a strong opening night double-header Tuesday night on TNT.
The two games averaged a 1.7 rating and 1.925 million households, up 38% and 41% respectively over last season’s opening doubleheader on the network. The solid numbers came despite the fact the first game was a 108-66 blowout by the Chicago Bulls over the Miami Heat and the second game featured the Los Angeles Lakers playing without major attraction Kobe Bryant.
Tuesday was TNT’s best opening-night numbers since 2003-2004.
The night also marked the long-awaited return to the studio of Ernie Johnson, Jr., the long-time face of Turner Sports, who is battling cancer. Johnson sported a new bald look as a result of treatments, and was the subject of a reel of good-natured messages from top NBA stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, many of whom commented on Johnson’s new look as they welcomed him back to the studio.