The Cleveland Cavaliers have been the most-talked about NBA team since at least the end of the 2013 Finals. The return of LeBron James has been well documented, in addition to the arrival of Kevin Love and the continued maturation of Kyrie Irving. They’re a premier team in the Association yet again, and unsurprisingly, the fans are returning.
Cleveland’s opener against the New York Knicks on Thursday night drew a bonkers 27.2 rating on TNT (which had the game exclusively) in that market. That is a 300 percent (300!) increase from last season’s opener against the Nets, which drew a 6.8 on FS Ohio. To give you an idea of how nuts that is, the Browns are currently averaging a 31.6 this season.
Friday night’s second game of the season — a showdown with the Chicago Bulls that many are cherry-picking as an Eastern Conference Final — lost some of the curious bystanders, but maintained very large ratings. The game drew an 12.4 rating on ESPN and a 4.2 on FS Ohio, marking a 16.6 overall. That’s up 253 percent from last season’s second game against Charlotte, which only aired on FS Ohio and drew a 4.7 rating. ESPN’s rating for the game was their highest ever for a game in Cleveland.
Perhaps there’s no greater showing of the Cavs and LeBron’s ratings power than Tuesday night’s game against the Portland Blazers. The game started at 10 p.m. local time, but still drew a 7.6 rating in Cleveland. That’s a 117 percent increase from the Cavaliers’ third game of last season, which was on the road, but only in Indiana and drew a 3.5 rating.
So, final count, Cavs games are averaging a 16.9 rating through three games, up 238 percent from a 5.0 average through three games last year. Safe to say, the return of LeBron has impacted the team and their cable partners in a real positive way. Like you didn’t think that would happen.