As the Wizards prepare to return to action following the all-star break, the team¡¯s TV ratings on NBC Sports Washington are up 70 percent from this point last year.
Sports Business Journal reported this week that regional sports networks across the league have seen a seven percent increase in ratings, with the Wizards¡¯ year-over-year gain the second-highest of the 27 teams analyzed. Ratings for Celtics games on NBC Sports Boston are up 82 percent from last year.?The Timberwolves, whose ratings are up 66 percent, are the only team besides the Celtics and Wizards to experience a bump of more than?35 percent. Numbers for Memphis, Toronto and Utah were not available.
¡°It speaks to the passion and interest in the team, and it¡¯s a carryover from last year,¡± Damon Phillips, who replaced Rebecca Schulte as the general manager of NBC Sports Washington in January, said Thursday. ¡°When I was looking at this job, the thing that stuck out to me was this team is on the rise, as evidenced by the fact that they have two all-stars in the backcourt. So, you have a team that¡¯s on the rise, you have carryover from last year and then there have been some compelling story lines throughout the season that¡¯s captured the attention of fans. The team is performing really well.¡±
The Wizards¡¯ average household rating on NBC Sports Washington through 57 games is 1.52, a 42 percent increase from the?1.07 regular season rating?they posted last year. Washington started the 2016-17 season 2-8, which contributed to the team¡¯s 0.89 rating through 53 games. Viewership increased during the Wizards¡¯?unprecedented turnaround, which resulted in the franchise¡¯s most regular season wins (49) since 1979.?Washington¡¯s 24 percent year-over-year ratings increase at the end of last season was the third-highest in the league behind the Rockets and ¡°Trust the Process¡± 76ers. Washington¡¯s 0.86 rating on what was then called CSN during the playoff-less 2015-16 season was the third-lowest among the 27 teams analyzed.
The Wizards¡¯ gains on NBC Sports Washington this season have come despite John Wall missing 20 games thus far due to injury, the team¡¯s struggles against sub-.500 competition and a greater number of?marquee games?appearing on ESPN, ABC and TNT?than in previous years. Thursday¡¯s game against the Cavaliers on TNT is one of 18 nationally televised games for the Wizards, who are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and a season-high nine games over .500 at 33-24.
¡°If you look at the East, this team is poised for potentially a No. 3 seed or a No. 4 seed, so there¡¯s a lot of excitement and buzz around the team,¡± said Phillips, who spent the past 10 years at ESPN. ¡°In general, Washington, D.C. is a basketball market. It¡¯s an NBA market and we have a lot of optimism about what the future holds.¡±
Phillips added that the network is very happy with the job that Kara Lawson has done in her first season as the primary analyst alongside Steve Buckhantz after she replaced the beloved Phil Chenier in that role.
SBJ reports that?the Warriors, Cavaliers, Thunder and Spurs, who boasted the four-highest ratings on their respective regional sports network partners last season, continue to lead the way at the all-star break. The Warriors¡¯ 8.87 average household rating on NBC Sports Bay Area is the highest in the league. By contrast, the Nets (0.42), Hawks (0.58) and Clippers (0.58) have the three worst ratings at the break.
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