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TNT Eyes Audience Advance With 2011 NBA All-Star Game

With its NBA telecasts on pace to score its highest Nielsen marks in its 27 years covering the sport, TNT executives hope its presentation of the Feb. 20 All-Star Game from Staples Center in Los Angeles will rebound in the ratings from last year.
The Feb. 14, 2010 contest, played before a basketball record crowd of 108,713 at Jerry Jones's Cowboys Stadium, posted a 3.8 household rating, 4.4 on the cable side, 4.4 million households and 6.9 million watchers on TNT. That was off 9.2% from the 7.6 million who watched the 2009 game, which grew 20% over the 2008 contest. The 2010 All-Star extravaganza, minus Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant who sat out with an ankle injury, went head-to- head with the third night of NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The drama network has already scored a major uptick from its NBA All-Star Saturday Night coverage from Dallas last year, which dropped a 3.1 national rating and 5.5 million viewers, its second-best performance behind the record 3.9 and 6.55 million watchers for the 2009 event. The 2010 event faced the second night of the Peacock's 2010 Games coverage.
In fact, TNT's 2011 telecast was the best in the 26-year history of the event drawing 8.1 million viewers, and the service's best mark of the current campaign, as viewers saw Ray Allen, the league's all-time long-distance shooter, come up short against Miami Heat's James Jones in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. However, Los Angeles Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin, to the delight of most, captured the 2011 Sprint Slam Dunk Contest crown over Washington's Javele McGee by leaping over a Kia Optima and cramming a two-hand jam from his teammate Baron Davis.

Perhaps the NBA All-Star Game -- TNT's telecast tips off at 8 p.m. (ET) -- can also benefit from all the attention the courtship of Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony by the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets has drawn in recent days. In fact, the 'Melodrama' has been a dominant storyline that has threatened to overshadow the game itself. Anthony, who was voted a starter on the Western Conference squad by the fans, has expressed hope the situation would be resolved by weekend's end. The trading deadline is Feb. 24.