The Eastern Conference finals match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat has it all. Arguably the three most dynamic players in the NBA. Two premier offenses. Two premier defenses. Two competing visions for assembling a potential dynasty. Plenty of great villains like Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh. This is as must-see as the NBA gets.
On Monday, we found out that must-see translated to most-watched. The Chicago Tribune reports that Game 1, despite being a blowout, set a ratings record for a basketball game in cable television's history.
National numbers released Monday showed the Bulls' '103-82 rout on TNT to be the most-viewed basketball game in cable history, with more than 11.109 million total viewers and a 6.2 overall household rating. The previous record was the 10.829 million viewers for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, which was Michael Jordan's final appearance in the mid-season exhibition.We can try to divide this massive audience into subgroups -- "Heat Haters," "Bulls Bandwagon Fans," etc. -- but that would detract from the larger point: The NBA is back, front and center, in the mainstream.
The preliminary 7.4 household rating in the metered markets represented an improvement of 40 percent on TNT's corresponding playoff telecast a year ago, when it averaged a 5.3 household rating for the Western finals opener between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. That Monday-night game figure dropped to a 4.2 household rating -- and 7.112 million total viewers -- when the national numbers came in.
As it should be. This has been an incredible season and an incredible playoffs, filled with tons of unpredictable results, an infusion of new blood and storyline after storyline after storyline. Just in time for a lockout. Awesome.
Hat tip: Pro Basketball Talk.