Through the first four games of the season, television ratings for the Indiana Pacers on the Fox Sports Indiana cable channel are up more than 10 percent.
The season opener at San Antonio Oct. 27 earned a 2.7 rating in Indianapolis according to Nielsen Media Research, up 11 percent over last year’s season opener at Atlanta (2.45) and up 26 percent over the 2008-09 opener at Detroit (2.2).
The Pacers' home opener on Oct. 30 against Philadelphia earned a 3.3 household rating, up 19 percent from last year.
Each rating point equals 10,720 central Indiana households, meaning 35,400 households tuned in to the home opener.
Fox officials pointed out that this year’s home opener went head-to-head with the third game of the Major League Baseball World Series and plenty of college football, whereas last year’s was played on a Friday night and did not. The Pacers' season opener went head-to-head with Game 1 of the World Series.
David Morton, president of local marketing firm Sunrise Sports Group, said he isn’t surprised by the early ratings increase.
“Central Indiana is hungry for the Pacers to do well,” he said. “There’s no shortage of Pacers fans here and they’ve been waiting for something to cheer about. Now, with the acquisition of Darren Collison, the emergence of Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger’s involvement with the U.S. team in the world championships, they have something to be excited about.”
Though it's early in the 82-game season, Fox General Manager Jack Donovon thinks the early numbers are an encouraging sign and an indication of things to come.
“As we’ve seen, the Pacers will play an exciting style of basketball,” Donovon said in a prepared statement. “And having every Fox Sports Indiana telecast in [high-definition] this season may bring more viewers to Pacers basketball.”
Fox Sports will air 72 of the team’s 82 regular-season home games. This is the first season all of them will be available in high-definition.
“This high-definition announcement marks a major milestone for Fox Sports Indiana,” Donovan said. “HD telecasts are especially effective in showcasing the athleticism and excitement of NBA basketball.”
A dispute between Fox and Dish Network officials threatened to ding Fox’s ratings. When the two sides couldn’t agree on a financial arrangement, Dish pulled 19 regional Fox Sports cable channels from its lineup Oct. 1. A settlement was reached Oct. 29, and Fox Sports can now be seen in the homes of 100,000 Dish TV subscribers statewide.
The National Basketball Association's TV ratings as a whole are on the rise this year. Sports marketers credit some of the ratings boost to an increasing level of player involvement in social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
In addition, the high-profile moves of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat to team up with Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal’s acquisition by the Boston Celtics, and the Los Angeles Lakers' attempt at winning three straight titles has ratcheted up interest.
TNT's exclusive doubleheader coverage of NBA opening night, which included a Miami-Boston matchup, delivered record-setting ratings and audience share for the cable network, with more than 4 million households tuning in.