The Indiana Pacers are likely more merry than grinchy as they ring in the New Year. And with good reason.
Not only is Larry Bird’s experiment of revamping the roster into a smaller, up-tempo scoring machine working out pretty well so far, attendance and TV ratings—two pillars of an NBA team’s financial health—are trending up.
Through 30 games, the Pacers are 18-12 and in third place in the Eastern Conference. That’s certainly better than most hoops prognosticators predicted. Of course, there’s a long way to go in this 82-game season.
Still, the Pacers’ business office has to be pleased with what it’s seen.
Through 15 home games, the team’s average home attendance is 16,491. That’s about 500 per game ahead of where the team was at this same point last season.
NBA attendance usually accelerates as the NFL season ends. In this market, that’s likely to happen Sunday. Last year, the Pacers average attendance climbed by nearly 1,000 per game during the last two-thirds of the season to 16,864 for 41 home games.
This year, with attendance already ahead of last year’s pace and with a much better team likely to make a strong playoff push, the Pacers’ attendance has a real shot of nearing the 17,501 mark it averaged for the entire 2013-14 season.
The television ratings for the team’s 30 games so far on Fox Sports Indiana have been another nice stocking stuffer for the Pacers.
Through Monday’s game, Pacers games on Fox Sports Indiana are averaging a 3.4 rating this season, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. That means on average nearly 37,000 households are tuning in to each game. That’s up 27 percent compared to the same number of games last season, according to Nielsen.
“We’re on pace for the second-best season in the last 10 years, behind 2013-14,” said Fox Sports Indiana spokesman Geoffrey Goldman.
Fox Sports Indiana this year will televise all of the Pacers’ 82 regular-season games.
During the 2013-14 season, the smoking-hot Pacers had an average rating of 4.4 (47,200 households) through 30 games and ended the season with a 4.2 average rating for its games on Fox Sports Indiana, according to Nielsen.
Last year, the team had a 2.7 rating through 30 games and ended with an average rating of 2.8, according to Nielsen.
With several marquee match-ups remaining—including three against Cleveland, two each against Chicago and Miami and one each against Golden State, the L.A. Lakers and San Antonio—the Pacers TV ratings are likely to climb during the back half of this season.
The most viewed Pacers games, according to Nielsen, on Fox Sports so far this year? Drum roll, please.
1. Dec. 8 against Golden State was a 6.4 rating (68,600 households).
2. Nov. 27 against Chicago was a 5.4 rating (57,900 households).
3. Dec. 28 against Atlanta was a 4.6 rating (49,300 households).