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Spurs-Nets’ Ratings Hit an All-Time Low

From Staff and Wire Reports

With the release of the national ratings for the NBA Finals on Tuesday, it became official that these Finals had the lowest ratings since Nielsen began using the current system in 1976.

The six games averaged a 6.5 rating with a 12 share of the audience. The previous low rating was a 6.7 for Boston and Houston in 1981, when some weeknight games were shown on CBS tape-delayed at 11:30 p.m.

The highest rating for this year’s Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets was a 7.5, with a 14 share, for Game 6 Sunday night.

ABC, in its first season of televising the NBA under a six-year contract with the league, ended up averaging a 5.6/12 for its 13 NBA postseason telecasts. ABC’s cable sister network, ESPN, also in its first season with the NBA, showed 20 postseason games and averaged a 2.4 rating.

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Incumbent TNT averaged a 3.2 for its 44 playoff games, a 27% increase over the previous year.

ABC vice president Mark Mandel said, “From our perspective, as we’ve said all along, the NBA playoffs provided a dramatic improvement over the programming we had in the same time slots last year.”

The 6.5 rating is a 63% improvement over last year’s programming, which mainly consisted of re-runs, and the 5.6 for the playoffs overall marked a 79% increase.

Mandel pointed out that factors contributing to the low ratings for the Finals included the absence of the Lakers, who have a national following, and earlier start times.

NBA Commissioner David Stern also said the start times were a factor.

“We expected ratings to be lower this year because games started more than a half-hour earlier than they had the year before,” Stern told the Washington Post.

The average rating for last year’s four-game Finals between the Lakers and Nets on NBC was a 10.2.

Said Mandel: “We’re going to judge our deal [with the NBA] over the long term, not just one year.”

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A rating point represents 1% of the nation’s 107 million television households. A share represents a percentage of the homes where television is being watch.

-- Larry Stewart

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Detroit Piston assistant Kevin O’Neill will be introduced as coach of the Toronto Raptors today, a league source said.

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O’Neill, 46, was the head coach at Northwestern, Tennessee and Marquette, and had a career record of 190-197.

He will replace Lenny Wilkens, who left the Raptors mutually after a 24-58 season.

-- Associated Press


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