TNT Drives Demo Gains With NBA All-Star Weekend

While not a slam dunk performance, Turner Network Television didn’t hoist a ratings airball with its coverage of the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game festivities this past weekend.  

Sunday’s live coverage of the All-Star game from New Orleans drew 6.3 million viewers, down 9% from the 6.8 million garnered for last year’s contest in Las Vegas.

But the Feb. 17 contest, won 134-128 by the LeBron James-led Eastern Conference team over the Western Conference squad, slammed last year’s ratings performance in several key demos, including viewers 18 to 34 (2.28 million, up 18% from 1.94 million last year); 18 to 49 (3.79 million, up 5% from 3.6 million); and men 18 to 34 (1.48 million, up 20% from 1.23 million viewers). The performances among the young demos were the best since the 2005 NBA All-Star Game, according to network officials.

TNT’s "All-Star Saturday Night," which included coverage of the league’s Sprite Slam Dunk contest and three-point shootout, drew 5.2 million viewers, an increase of 7% over last year’s audience of 4.8 million viewers. The festivities, highlighted by the high-wire dunks of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, were the most-watched in the event’s 23-year history on TNT.  

The drama network also posted up double-digit increases on Saturday night among viewers 18 to 34 (1.8 million, up 13%); 18 to 49 (13% to 3.1 million) and men 18-34 (17% to 1.3 million).  

In addition, 3.2 million people went online to see exclusive broadband content at TNT NBA Overtime, according to the network.

The weekend also marked the first time that fans were able to decide the dunk contest winner, with over 1 million text messages received from around the globe, 78% of which favored Howard. Over 500,000 fans cast their votes for the MVP, which was awarded to James.

“TNT’s 17 hours of NBA All-Star 2008 programming, more than 100 hours of broadband coverage on TNT NBA Overtime, and the inaugural use of text messaging to help determine the NBA All-Star Game MVP and Slam Dunk champion clearly resonated with fans on a multitude of platforms,” said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales, Inc. and Turner Sports, in a statement. “Turner Sports and the NBA have always prided themselves on cutting edge innovation and this weekend’s successful event showcased our partnership’s ability to aggregate and produce sporting events on a variety of mediums.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.