Big Ratings for Shaq-Yao Tilt

Shaquille O'Neal is big. Yao Ming is taller. ESPN's coverage of the
first-ever meeting between the National Basketball Association's most dominant
player and the No. 1 pick in the pro hoops league's 2002 draft drew huge

The Jan. 17 telecast of Yao's Houston Rockets taking the measure of Shaq's
Los Angeles Lakers, 108-104 in overtime, stretched to a 3.82 household rating
and nearly 3.33 million impressions, according to Nielsen Media Research

ESPN said that performance made the marquee matchup the second-most-viewed
regular-season NBA game in cable history, trailing only the 4.74 million
impressions garnered by Turner Network Television's presentation of the Feb. 2,
1996, contest between the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.

That cablecast featured Magic Johnson in his second game out of