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The Heat are the NBA’s last remaining ratings draw

Despite heading to overtime, Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Grizzlies and Spurs once again struggled in the ratings. Game 2 on ESPN drew 4.6 million viewers, down a whopping 48% from Game 2 of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN, which drew 8.8 million viewers. The series was also down 34% from Game 2 of 2011 Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and Mavericks on ESPN, which had 7.0 million viewers.

Even if you cross networks and compare the series to Game 2 of last year's Western Conference Finals on TNT between the Thunder and Spurs, you see a drop of 37% from the 7.3 million viewers that game drew. The overnight for Game 1 on ABC was a disaster, and the trend is continuing now that the game is back on cable. One has to wonder if a rematch of Thunder-Spurs could at least equal last year's numbers with the starpower of Kevin Durant.

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Let's put things in perspective once again, shall we? Game 2 was the least-viewed Conference Finals game on cable since Game 5 of the Jazz-Spurs Western Conference Final in 2007, which drew just 4.0 million viewers. Over the last four playoffs, every Conference Final game had drawn at least six million viewers, and every Conference Final over the last five years had drawn at least five million viewers. Then you have this series, which might not end up *averaging* five million viewers for the series.

I'm sure Disney executives exhaled when the Heat pulled out Game 1 against the Pacers last night in overtime, because if Indiana ends up in the finals against either Memphis or San Antonio, the NBA could be looking at approaching their worst ratings ever. The Heat-Pacers game ended up pulling in a 6.1 overnight on TNT, up 11% from Game 1 of TNT's Thunder-Spurs series last year. That game also drew 8.2 million viewers, or almost double the audience of Grizzlies-Spurs Game 2, and was the most watched game of the playoffs thus far.

It seems that whichever network has the Eastern Finals (and the Heat) is going to be the ones with the good ratings news these days. Of the four teams left in the NBA, it seems that Miami is the only true ratings draw around the nation.

[Sports Media Watch]

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and a contributing author at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is stuck somewhere between tolerating and hating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports.

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