Despite the public relations disaster that was the lockout over the summer, and the subsequent sloppy games and rise of injuries to regular-rotation players during the shortened season, interest in the NBA doesn’t appear to have been affected in the slightest. Quite the opposite really, it seems to have swelled with the latest numbers coming in from NBA TV in which they report record ratings a little over a month into the 2011-12 season, outpacing last season’s viewership substantially.
Through the first 34 games of the regular season, NBA TV is averaging 391,000 total viewers and 306,000 total households, up 74% and 78% respectively, compared to the same time last year. In addition, NBA TV has also shown the largest universe growth of any cable network since the start of the year with an increase of over 3.3 million households.
Already this season, three recent games have ranked in the top 5 most-viewed games on NBA TV ever: LA Lakers at LA Clippers: 756,000 viewers on 1/14/12 (the most watched regular season game in NBA TV history), Chicago Bulls at LA Clippers: 722,000 viewers on 12/30/11 (which had ranked as the most watched NBA TV regular season game until the L.A. game two weeks later), and the LA Clippers at LA Lakers: 686,000 viewers (1/25/12).
“Fan Night” games, where viewers can vote on which games they want to see via NBA.com, NBA’s Facebook page and Yahoo.com, have been extremely popular as well. The Jan. 17 Fan Night match-up between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat delivered the most-watched Fan Night game so far this season on NBA TV with 675,000 total viewers. The first seven Fan Night games of the 2011-12 regular season averaged 502,000 viewers and 400,000 households, up 35% and 45%, respectively, compared to the same time period last year.
In what is surely good news for advertisers is that NBA TV continues to average the youngest median age (34.4) of any sports network and that it’s key demographics are also up double and triple digits compared to the same time period of the 2010-11 regular season.
Anyone still complaining that the lockout was going to permanently turn away basketball fans? Didn’t think so.