Slam Dunk: NBA Finals Boost Ratings

basketball hoopBig name NBA talent -- and closely fought games -- have boosted TV playoff ratings to a high level.

ABC says the third game of the Western Conference Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday took in 8.7 million viewers -- the network's most-viewed NBA conference finals ever.

This was higher than the 6.0 million the network got for the 2006 Detroit/Miami conference finals. The Lakers/Nuggets contest features Los Angeles's Kobe Bryant versus Denver's Carmelo Anthony.

Final numbers are not in yet for game four, which was played on Memorial Day. But preliminary numbers have ABC's sister network ESPN seeing a 42% increase from a similar game of a year ago to an average 7.1 overnight household rating.

ABC's sister network ESPN is seeing gains this year versus last -- up 10% in overall viewers to a 4.0 million average and 3% in overall household ratings to an average 3.1 rating.

ABC also said that Game 4 of the Western conference finals was the most viewed NBA game ever on ESPN360.com, with nearly 2.8 million minutes of time spent by users.

As of May 21, TNT, the NBA's other cable network partner, has seen playoff ratings up as well -- 11% higher to a 3.1 cable rating, or 4.0 million viewers, for 37 telecasts through the conference semifinals.

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