Heat, Bulls, Lakers and, Yes, the Clippers Return the NBA to "Must-See TV"

James WilliamsAnalyst IIIJanuary 7, 2012

Chris Paul and the Clippers are a hit both nationally and locally
Chris Paul and the Clippers are a hit both nationally and locallyStephen Dunn/Getty Images

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is perhaps the best way to explain the high ratings that the NBA got across the boards after Week 1 of the shortened 66-game schedule debuted on Christmas Day.

TNT, ESPN and NBA TV all saw record numbers over the first week of the 2011-2012 NBA season and it does not look like the ratings will be dropping anytime soon.

Numbers released by TNT this week shows that they got a +127% increase in Total Viewers 3,957,000 vs. 1,743,000 in 2010, +127% increase in U.S. Household rating 2.5 rating vs. 1.1 rating in 2010 and +116% increase in U.S. HH 2,843,000 vs. 1,317,000 in 2010.

TNT’s Christmas Day Game marked the most-watched NBA regular-season game on Christmas ever on cable with a 3.4 overall U.S. HH rating and more than 5.9 million total viewers.

The NBA’s Opening on Christmas Day was not just a winner for TNT, the ESPN/ABC family of networks had a good showing.

The Miami vs. Dallas NBA Championship rematch scored a 5.6 rating, up six percent over last year’s Boston vs. Orlando broadcast 5.3 rating game in the 2:30 p.m. broadcast window and the best since Miami vs. L.A. Lakers in 2004 7.9 rating.

Chicago vs. L.A. Lakers on ABC at 5:30 p.m. generated a 6.5 rating, ABC’s third-highest-rated NBA regular-season game trailing only Miami vs. L.A. Lakers last year, 7.3 rating, and in 2004, 7.9 rating.

Orlando vs. Oklahoma City on ESPN at 8 p.m. averaged a 1.9 rating, up 36 percent compared to last year’s Denver vs. Oklahoma City game 1.4 rating.

L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State on ESPN at 10:30 p.m. had a 2.3 rating, up 77 percent over last year’s Portland vs. Golden State telecast, to become ESPN’s highest-rated Christmas Day game ever in prime time.

According to an industry insider Frank Carney, "We now have a condensed season that means every game becomes far more important and ESPN, TNT as well as NBA TV are featuring the top teams on a weekly basis.

I mean we are seeing the Heat, the Bulls, the Lakers, the Celtics and the Knicks on more often than would be the case in a normal 82-game season. Then you add to that the new starts of the NBA like the Thunder with Kevin Durant as well as the Clippers with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and there truly isn’t a bad game on national television.”

On a local level, numbers are up all over the league with the biggest increases coming in Chicago, New York, and Los Angele where both the Lakers and the Clippers are doing well. The Heat continues to deliver great numbers in the South Florida area and entire state of Oklahoma has made the Thunder “must-see TV.”