Local market tunes in Pacers playoff in 'huge' numbers

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The Indiana Pacers grabbed the attention of a big chunk of the local TV market on Sunday, drawing nearly 10 times the audience they did for their regular-season games.

After several years of struggles, the Pacers have packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse each of the last two home games in their second-round National Basketball Association playoff series with the Miami Heat, and television ratings are back to numbers not seen in years.

Sunday’s game, which aired on WRTV-TV Channel 6, drew an 18.2 rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. That means about 195,200 central Indiana households tuned in. Nielsen reported that 36.1 percent of central Indiana households watching TV from 3:30 p.m. to just after 6 p.m. were tuned into the game, which the Pacers lost, 101-93.

Those are numbers that rival viewership for Indianapolis Colts regular-season games.

For the regular season, the Pacers averaged a 2.4 rating, or about 25,730 households on Fox Sports Indiana.

As the team has improved the last two seasons, its TV ratings have been slowly building.

This year’s regular-season ratings were up 12 percent over the 2010-2011 season, which was up 35 percent over the 2009-2010 season. The Pacers are one of a small handful of NBA teams that have seen double-digit TV-ratings increases the last two seasons.

But Sunday’s audience was a giant leap.

“Those were huge numbers for an NBA game,” said WRTV spokesman Paul Montgomery.

The game helped WRTV beat its network-affiliate competitors on Sunday afternoon. During the same time slot, WISH-TV Channel 8 registered a 1.4 rating for the Byron Nelson Classic golf match and WTHR-TV Channel 13 scored a 0.1 rating in the local market for a National Hockey League playoff game, according to Nielsen.



  • ratings
    Good to see the town is finally waking up, but I think you are wrong about the 18.2 rating approaching a Colts regular season game. Pretty sure Colts games during last year's lousy season approached 30.0, and were definitely in mid 30's - 40 range before going 2-14.
  • broadcast vs narrowcast
    The fact that Pacer games have not been available on free tv hurts the teams efforts to regain casual fans. More people are dumping cable and other pay services precisely because of sports networks. ESPN is the most expensive channel on any cable system, and many people who are not big sports fans have grown tired of ever more expense pay-tv bills. With the advent of DTV, 25+ channels are available free in the Indy area, and the HD picture is uncompressed, meaning it's BETTER quality than cable.
  • Cable vs Air
    Jim, I don't think it is that simple. CJF has a good point. When the Pacers left WTTV-4 back in 2006, they left behind a big market of fans that don't have access to FSN Indiana. Even though it is difficult to believe that some people don't have pay-TV, there are many who don't, particularly in the country. I really hate it that these children don't have access. So when they happen to be on network TV, there probably is an artificial boost due to their absence from it. Now the real issue is let's keep Hibbert in the game and give ourselves a chance to win tomorrow night.
  • The point of the article was...
    The point was that ratings are up, period, and of course they would be up a lot more on national TV against a much despised Heat team...the Pacers haven't been on national TV, in an important game in a long time, so whether you have rabbit ears, cable, or dish is irrelevant, Mr. Well Duh?...the only place you could see them is FSN, they are not even on TNT, ESPN or NBA TV, and on the rare occasions any of those networks pick them up, FSN has the rights to the local feed anyway. Given the very competitive nature of this series, the good playoff showing of the Pacers so far, and the acrimony developing between them and Miami and Chicago, in the future, you should get to see the Pacers once in a while even if you just have rabbit ears...the real story here is that the Pacers are young, play hard and as a team, and that is resulting in better ratings, and the occasional national TV spotlight...I for one am very gald to see it.
  • Go Pacers
    Even though they lost, they are looking so good - long overdue!
  • Well, Duh
    The game was on ABC. I haven't see a Pacer's game for years since they went to FSN. And yes, I've got good 'ol rabbit ears. Tired of paying Dish.

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