'We're totally prepared'
Stern looking to new media to combat low TV ratings
Posted: Tuesday June 12, 2007 11:51PM; Updated: Tuesday June 12, 2007 11:51PM
CLEVELAND -- Commissioner David Stern responded to the record-low TV ratings for the NBA Finals by saying that they were a sign of the changing media times.
"What it means to us is that we had two very bad games, and you would expect bad ratings,'' Stern told SI.com during halftime of Game 3 Tuesday. "But what it also means is that we led the night in the key demographic on our network, and increasingly it's not about how you did last year. It's about how you did against your competition. And against our competition we're doing great.''
The 6.3 rating for Game 1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the San Antonio Spurs on ABC amounted to a 19 percent drop from last year, setting a record low for an NBA Finals opening game in prime time. They fell even further for Game 2, earning a 5.6 national rating and a 10 share on Sunday night -- plummeting 30 percent from the numbers of 8.0 and 14 drawn by the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals last year.
An NBA official said that the ratings were affected by the competition in the East and Midwest against the finale of The Sopranos,' which was watched by an estimated 11.9 million people on HBO.
In addition, the Spurs have historically drawn small numbers on network television.
Stern's emphasis was that the ratings fail to reflect a new audience that is consuming his league via NBA.com and other internet sites.
"Thirty million people visited streamed highlights on NBA.com [in February of this season],'' Stern said. "Our fans, like so many other fans, are beginning to consume their sports in a completely different way and we're totally prepared for that consumption.''
Stern said he never agreed with predictions that ratings would climb in anticipation of LeBron James' debut in the NBA Finals, adding that the 22-year-old star was too young to carry the audience on his own.
"Michael didn't do it at this point in his career,'' said Stern, noting that Jordan didn't reach the NBA Finals until his seventh NBA season.