The Indiana Pacers 97-87 win over Orlando scored a 4.8 television rating in the central Indiana market, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research.
That means about 51,500 TV households in the market watched the game. That's up 46 percent from last year's season opener on Fox Sports Indiana cable channel.
It didn't hurt that the Pacers' opponent on Tuesday featured Indiana University graduate Victor Oladipo in his first NBA game. But the Pacers also have become quite a draw in this market and nationally led by all-star Paul George and hometown hero George Hill, an IUPUI graduate.
Either way, Fox Sports Indiana and the station's advertisers had to be thrilled. Tuesday's game was the highest-rated regular season game on Fox Sports Indiana since Dec. 10, 2005, which was a 5.0 rating for a game against Memphis.
Tuesday's home game was up 22 percent over last season's highest rated regular season game on Fox Sports Indiana, which was on Feb. 4 vs. the rival Chicago Bulls. Tuesday's game would likely have earned a higher rating if it wasn't a home game. Certainly more than a few of the 18,165 who attended the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse would have tuned in on TV had it been an away game.
Fox Sports Indiana General Manager Jack Donovan wasn't surprised by the Pacers' strong TV rating on Tuesday.
"Last year finished on a very high note and we expect that to carry over this year," Donovan said. "We expect ratings to be 10 [percent] to 20 percent higher this November than they were last November. ... And we expect them to build from there."
Last year, the Pacers finished the regular season strong and made a deep run in the playoffs, losing in a tough seven-game series in the Eastern Conference finals to Miami, the eventual NBA champions.
The 78 Pacers games broadcast on Fox Sports Indiana last season scored an average rating of 2.1, according to Nielsen. That equates into about 22,600 central Indiana households.
Ad sales for Pacers broadcasts on Fox Sports Indiana are up a double-digit percentage increase over this time last year, Donovan said, adding that Fox Sports Indiana "has added many new advertisers" for Pacers telecasts.