National Basketball Association Nielsen Ratings - ABC (also ESPN On ABC) (2002-) - The NBA Finals - 2003 NBA Finals

2003 NBA Finals

During its twelve-year run on NBC, the NBA never received a Championship Series TV rating lower than a 10.0. In 2003, thanks in part to a playoff schedule in which the Finals began nearly a week after the Conference Finals ended, ratings for the series between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets plunged to a record-low 6.5. Game 6 of the series, the deciding game, ranked number 6 in number of households watched, and games were routinely beaten by reruns of series on CBS. Many attributed the drop to a relatively superstar-free Finals, which involved two small markets. Others pinned the massive ratings drop on bad play (the score at halftime of Game 3 was 33-30), and former ABC Sports Vice President Jim Spence was quoted as laying part of the blame on ABC itself:

There were too many announcers, too many camera cuts and an overuse of technology. It was hard to settle in as a viewer.

In addition, unlike previous NBA Finals, games routinely began at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, nearly forty-five minutes earlier than normal. In what was viewed as an insult to some fans, ABC had movie reviewer Joel Siegel as a guest for halftime of Game 6. Siegel and Mike Tirico spent most of halftime talking about the upcoming summer movies, including featuring a look at music from Hulk. The segment ended with Siegel and Tirico, both wearing toy Incredible Hulk hands, pounding fists. On the segment, the Sports Business Daily quoted Joe Hawk of the Review-Journal as saying:

At first, we were peeved ABC would foist upon us 10 minutes of shameless whoring for the summer movie industry at halftime Sunday. But considering what the Spurs and Nets had given us for the first 5½ games of the series, even a trailer for that hokey 'Hulk' flick was more entertaining.

No game in the series reached a 7.6 Nielsen rating, and none of the games reached a double-digit overnight rating. In addition to Game 2 of the 2005 NBA Finals, Games 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the 2003 series rank as the only championship games out of the NBA, MLB and NFL to have below a 7.0 rating. The poor ratings were a surprise to many in the media, and, while the overall quality of play in the series was criticized the most, ABC's telecasts also received a large amount of criticism. The New York Post's Andrew Marchand took notice of the fact that ABC's graphics had not been updated or changed in any way for the Finals, while Jim Sarni of The Miami Herald noted that the announcing team of Brad Nessler, Bill Walton and Tom Tolbert was "as bad as the basketball."

Also, 2003 was the only year that ABC broadcast both the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals that involved teams from one city in the same year. During Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Continental Airlines Arena on June 8, 2003, Nessler, Walton, and Tolbert indicated that the New Jersey Devils would be playing the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals at Continental Airlines Arena the following night and that ABC would be broadcasting it. The following night, Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson all indicated that ABC broadcast crews were in a situation having to broadcast two games from Continental Airlines Arena in as many nights: first Game 3 of the NBA Finals, then Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Bob Cole and Harry Neale also indicated the situation ABC was in during their broadcast of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the CBC.

Read more about this topic:  National Basketball Association Nielsen Ratings, ABC (also ESPN On ABC) (2002-), The NBA Finals

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2003 NBA Finals - Television Coverage
... This NBA Finals was aired on ABC, after a 30 years of absence for ABC Sports carrying the NBA ... Until 2007, this was the lowest rated finals in NBA history ... This was also the only year that ABC broadcast both the NBA and the Stanley Cup Finals that involved teams from one city in the same year ...