TNT's NBA Opening Drops Versus World Series

Facing off against the potential World Series clincher and without LeBron James on the bill, TNT’s opening night NBA doubleheader took a heavy Nielsen hit from its 2013-14 season-starting pair.

TNT’s Tuesday twinbill -- featuring the defending champion San Antonio Spurs edging Lone Star State rival Dallas Mavericks 101-100, trailed by the Houston Rockets' demolition of the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers -- averaged a 1.5 U.S. rating and 2.36 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That delivery marked a 47% decline from last season's opening-night doubleheader.

Still, the Oct. 28 doubleheader ranked 25% above TNT's 1.5 rating for the 2013-14 season and 21% higher than its 1.9 million average audience, as the twinbill was the most-viewed sports programming on cable on Tuesday night. Compared with last season, TNT’s NBA Opening Night doubleheader delivered growth across all key demos, including a 40% increase among persons 18 to 49 and a 45% amelioration against guys 18 to 49, according to the network.

Entering the 2014-15 season, TNT, over the last five campaigns, has netted its five most-viewed seasons during its 30 years of NBA game coverage.

Breaking it down, Spurs-Mavericks tallied 2.3 million viewers on Oct. 28, while the Rockets-Lakers mismatch garnered 2.4 million watchers.

For its part, Game 6 of the 2014 World Series captured 13.4 million watchers on Fox.

As for The King, Tuesday night marked the first time -- excluding the lockout-truncated 2011-12 campaign -- that TNT's opening night doubleheader didn't feature James. LeBron will be in TNT's lineup on Thursday, when the Cavaliers host the New York Knicks in his return to Quicken Loans Arena. The nightcap will feature Oklahoma City visiting the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.