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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit Season High Over Weekend

The league’s ratings are bouncing back after a collapse in the bubble.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After brutal ratings in the Orlando bubble last season, the NBA is bouncing back. Sports Media Watch reported that the Game 7s in both Eastern Conference Semifinal matchups were their largest playoff audiences this year and one of the biggest early-round audiences since 2012.

The first do-or-die outing between the Bucks and Nets averaged 6.91 million viewers on TNT. That makes it the largest so far this postseason and the eighth largest early-round mark since 2012. Fans that tuned in got a rare treat.

The Bucks victory became just the seventh Game 7 to go to overtime in league history. It was the first to eclipse 48 minutes since Mavericks-Spurs went to overtime in 2006. The instant classic finished as the second-most-watched game of the season. Mavericks-Lakers holds the top spot with 7.01 million average viewers.

Warriors-Rockets from the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals hold the top spot for early-round viewership. Steph Curry and the Warriors closed out the Rockets in front of 7.33 million average viewers.

Hawks-Sixers on Sunday night wasn’t too far off of the affair in Brooklyn. The matchup averaged 6.16 million viewers on TNT. Slotting it in as the second-highest-rated game this postseason and third overall this season. These were big leaps from last year’s Game 7 numbers in the bubble. Nuggets-Clippers and Raptors-Celtics averaged 5.43 and 4.69 million viewers respectively last year.

Zooming out further and looking at 2019 these games slot into the normal rating metrics the league saw before the pandemic. Sixers-Raptors from that year barely edged out Bucks-Nets with 6.94 million average viewers. But the “KD Foot Game” comfortably outpaced Nuggets-Blazers at 6.34 million average viewers.

This weekend not only brought great games to fans, but a big game feel as well from the crowd. As more stadiums open up, fans are getting back to regular viewing habits.

Sports TV News

ESPN Plans 20 Hours of College Football Playoff Selection Coverage

The College Football Playoff teams will be unveiled at 12:15 PM ET, with the rest of the New Year’s Six matchup being revealed at 2:30 PM.

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ESPN has more than 20 hours of studio coverage planned for the selection of the College Football Playoff.

The College Football Playoff teams will be unveiled at 12:15 PM ET, with the rest of the New Year’s Six matchup being revealed at 2:30 PM. Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Joey Galloway, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack will be on the main set as the selections are revealed.

Several other personalities will join the show including analysts Greg McElroy, Robert Griffin III, and Dan Mullen, in addition to Paul Finebaum, Matt Barrie, and Chris Fowler.

ACC Network and SEC Network will also separately produce shows discussing the bowl selections.

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Sports TV News

Chris Fallica Leaving ESPN for FOX

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Jordan Bondurant

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A prominent sports betting voice featured on ESPN’s College GameDay will be heading to rival FOX and their Big Noon Kickoff show starting in 2023. According to Awful Announcing, Chris Fallica, affectionately known as “The Bear”, will make his last appearance on GameDay will be this weekend.

Fallica has been with ESPN since 1995. Since 2013, Fallica had been featured on GameDay making betting picks with his patented “Bear’s Board”.

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Fallica joins Tom Rinaldi as the second former GameDay voice to jump over to FOX and be featured on Big Noon Kickoff.

Both shows have experienced incredible viewership growth this season. For GameDay, there have been several weeks this season that have seen some of the largest audiences in the show’s history.

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Sports TV News

Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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