Paul George’s return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t do much for the Indiana Pacers’ on-court record, but it did help boost TV viewership of the Blue and Gold in central Indiana.
As noted last week, household viewership of Pacers games on Fox Sports Indiana is up 20 percent over last season. The highest-rated game on Fox Sports Indiana this season was the Dec. 8 tilt against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland game scored a 5.6 household rating, which means nearly 60,000 central Indiana households tuned in, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. That was the highest rated Pacers game on Fox Sports since Dec. 30, 2015.
The Cleveland game is still the most-watched on Fox Sports Indiana this season, but it’s not the most-watched in central Indiana overall.
The Pacers vs. Thunder game on Dec. 13 scored a 4.3 rating (45,000 central Indiana households), according to Nielsen. That in and of itself is higher than the 3.4 (35,000 households) Pacers games are averaging this season on Fox Sports Indiana. In that regard, the Oklahoma City game is the third most-watched Pacers game on Fox Sports Indiana so far this season.
But wait, there’s more.
The Pacers vs. Thunder game also aired on ESPN, where it earned a 5.7 local rating, according to Nielsen.
Combined the two ratings, and that means 103,000 central Indiana households tuned in to the game—by far the highest-rated game this season.
While George’s first appearance back in Indy certainly had a lot to do with the sky-high rating for the Thunder game, Fox Sports officials think the Pacers’ play is having bigger impact overall on ratings than stars—or villains—on the other teams.
“The television viewership shows that interest in the Pacers is high,” said Jack Donovan, Fox Sports general manager and senior vice president. “They’re fun to watch, and the players connect to the fan base.”