ESPN has a dream matchup for the NBA Finals pitting the league's biggest attraction, LeBron James, against rising star Steph Curry.
With major markets New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston knocked out, ESPN and ABC can't complain about getting Cleveland versus San Francisco (OK, Golden State) and several compelling storylines.
Can LeBron's return to Ohio end Cleveland's championship drought? Will Curry, the league's best shooter and MVP, wind up on the champion's platform with adorable daughter Riley soaking up the limelight?
James is also popular with advertisers, selling a host of products including Nike. Curry is spokesman for Under Armour, but his exposure on the big stage is sure to lead to more endorsement deals.
TV execs will tell you that getting a good matchup is good, but it's a long series that generates ratings. After conference championship series that went just four games in the east and five in the west, ESPN might be a bit jealous of how the things are playing out on the ice for NBCUniversal.
The Stanley Cup playoffs will feature a game 7 in both the east, where the New York Rangers face the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the west, where the Chicago Blackhawks are pitted against the Anaheim Ducks. That means big ratings for the NHL and more ad dollars for NBCU.
A New York-Chicago final would be huge for NBC, with two markets that are not only huge but hockey crazy. But it might be tough for the guy in NBC Sports' ad sales in charge of getting tickets for clients.
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