Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Oklahoma City Thunder: Comic Relief from Recent ESPN Television Ratings

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This morning I was amazed after reading the headline in a Oklahoma City newspaper claiming the Thunder had shattered television records ratings on ESPN.  It made no sense.  You mean the entire country is enthralled about a team from a somewhere in the middle of the country that nobody cares about?  Are they serious?

From the story, here’s what it said:  “The Thunder broke its mark of 24.0 for Game 5 of Thunder-Grizzlies playoff series on May 11 on TNT.”

Why was I amazed?  Because if true, it would make the Oklahoma City Thunder game the highest rated program in cable sports history, dwarfing the BCS National Championship Title game between Auburn vs Oregon back in January.

That game drew a 16.1 overnight rating in its first year on ESPN. That’s 12 percent less than the 18.2 rating Fox drew last year.

But then, added as an afterthought in the homer Oklahoma City newspaper, was this little nugget saying “the ratings are a percentage of the TV households in the Oklahoma City market.”

Uh … excuse me?  Well that means the headline was just a trifle misleading!

114340737_crop_340x234Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The truth is the Thunder are breaking television records in the 45th largest market in the country, so it’s hardly relevant nationally.

Let’s put this in perspective.  According to Wikipedia (the absolute authority on everything), the population of Oklahoma City is 579,999.

The greater metropolitan area of Oklahoma City, combined with the big huge downtown city-slicker numbers, equates to 1,252,987.

Doing the math, and being deliberately simplistic with population counts vs ratings, 25 percent of the greater metropolitan number divided out, equates to 313,246 households allegedly with their TV’s on during this game.

That likely includes a third of them who forgot to turn off the set when they were out mowing their lawns.

Now let’s compare those numbers with those in the market that Clay Bennett and David Stern abandoned.  The Puget Sound region, with four times the population.

According to Wikipedia, the total population of the Seattle region is 4,087,033.

If we take the actual viewer numbers of the net population of 313k, and extrapolate that out, the ratings are somewhat less than what live fishing garners.

The numbers hover around a 7.6 in the Seattle market, let alone the surrounding markets of Vancouver BC, Alaska, and the Far East.

Let’s compare that to an actual major market like Los Angeles, where 17,786,419 real residents reside.

313,000 households would equate to a market share of .017 percent of the greater LA basin. Not exactly numbers that blows the doors off your hot rod.

Are you getting my point here Oklahoma City?

Your huge television numbers there in Thunderville are inconsequential, when compared against the more normal NBAmarkets.

But it’s not Oklahoma City’s fault.  There just aren’t enough people in the community to make it a relevant number to an average national broadcast executive, nor anyone outside of the state of Oklahoma.

Hence David Stern created a nightmare for the NBA, because what used to be a month of anticipation and excitement for millions of fans out West, has been replaced by a very small scant minority a couple hours away from another franchise in Dallas, and there is no way to significantly improve those numbers.

In other words, big TV ratings in Oklahoma City mean nothing—especially when formerly loyal markets now show about the same passion for professional basketball as an eight-year-old for his cousin’s wedding!

Nobody cares about the Oklahoma City Thunder, and of those who might have (ie: Seattle fans), most are vowing to never watch another NBA game again.

Not when David Stern is still pulling the strings, and certainly not when the same commissioner was calling a nearly-new arena dilapidated and inadequate while breaking the very lease used to coerce the city of Seattle into building the NBA a new arena in the first place!

So the moral of the story:  The lesson you taught to Seattle, Mr Stern, is now coming around to bite. Starting with that unimpressive 5.0 Thunder vs Grizzlies rating that you just pulled down last week on ESPN national!

And that was a pretty good series.  Just imagine what kind of pathetic numbers those two teams might pull in, should the series be a four game sweep!


Written by PhilCaldwell

May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

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