NBA shooting higher

Finals approach new ratings record

Friday night’s game-five 83-81 victory by the Utah Jazz over the Chicago Bulls has apparently clinched a record rating for this year’s NBA finals, a record that probably would not have been achieved had the Bulls won Friday’s game and ended the series with a four-games-to-one margin.

The Jazz’ game-five victory netted an impressive 20.6 rating/36 share average in overnight Nielsens (with national results due to be announced Monday). That probably would not have been quite enough to earn the record had Michael Jordan’s game-closing shot gone in, which would have won the game for the Bulls and ended the series after five games. It was, however, strong enough to make a new record virtually a certainty once a big game-six rating is factored into the averages.

Overnight results for Sunday night’s game six will be released by Nielsen Monday and nationals will follow on Tuesday.

The current record for a completed finals series is the 18.0/33 of the six-game 1993 matchup between Chicago and Phoenix. Through four games this year, the Bulls-Jazz series was averaging a 17.5/31 and Friday’s metered-market 20.6/36 is likely to translate to a 19-20 rating in national results to be released Monday. That would probably fall just short of lifting the five-game average above the record 18.0, but it’s close enough that game six will almost certainly push this year’s series to the record.

Friday’s overnights didn’t quite measure up to last year’s game five, which was played on a higher-viewership Wednesday and earned a 22.3 rating in overnights (and a 20.1/35 in nationals). The comparable year-ago Friday telecast, last year’s series-deciding game six, earned a 20.1 in overnights (and an 18.5/35 nationally), putting it behind last Friday’s overnights.

Each national household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes in which television is being watched during the timeslot involved.

The 39 markets reporting Friday cover roughly 60% of the country’s TV homes.