HOLLYWOOD — Despite a quartet of short second-round series, the NBA playoffs on NBC are running even with last season in the ratings.
According to Nielsen overnights, the net’s coverage of pro basketball’s post-season is averaging a 5.5 rating through Sunday — the same as a year ago.
And that’s even though all four of this year’s second-round, best-of-seven series wrapped in just five games. In general, a series generates its highest ratings in the tense sixth and seventh games.
Saturday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings (6:45-9:30 p.m. EDT) did a 7.5/14 in overnights (a 17.6/38 in Los Angeles), a 7% improvement vs. the 7.0/15 for Game 1 of the Lakers-San Antonio Spurs series a year ago.
Sunday’s Boston Celtics-Detroit Pistons matchup in Game 1 of the Eastern finals pulled in a 7.4/13 in overnights, but that was down 16% from the seventh game of the second-round Toronto-Philadelphia series on the same day last year (8.8/17).
NBC had some good news Saturday with its coverage of horse racing’s Preakness Stakes. Pre-race action (5-5:30 p.m. EDT) grabbed a 4.4/10 in overnights (up 7% vs. last year), while the race (5:30-6:45) earned a 7.4/16 (up 10%).
ABC also did well Saturday with its coverage of Game 1 of hockey’s playoff semifinals, as the Colorado-Detroit matchup generated a 2.4/6 in overnights (up 50% vs. the 1.6/4 for St. Louis-Colorado last year).