When the Miami Heat came back from a 27 point third quarter deficit against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday to win their 24th straight NBA game, it provided another television ratings bonanza for Sun Sports, the regional sports network owned by Fox which carries the team’s games.
While Heat superstar LeBron James scored 25 points against his former team to move the Heat within nine games of matching the record of 33 consecutive wins held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, Sun Sports was scoring an impressive 11.7 rating for the game, including a peak performance of a 18.5 rating, according to statistical information provided by Fox Sports.
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During this streak, 20 of the 24 Heat games that have been televised by Sun Sports have averaged an 8.9 rating, which means 144,269 homes in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area were watching. The season average last year saw Heat telecasts typically drawing a 6.5 rating, or about 105,000 homes.
For the season to date, the Heat games are third in the NBA (in local viewing) only to the New York Knicks (averaging 247,000 homes a game) and the Chicago Bulls (averaging 114,000 homes a game) – both of which are in much larger media markets than Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.
On Monday night, the Heat game against the Boston Celtics had a 12.2 rating, which was a new all-time record (regular season or playoffs) for Sun Sports. The old record was a 11.1 rating set on March 10 when the Heat played the Pacers.
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That 12.2 rating more than doubled the rating of ESPN’s side-by-side telecast. ESPN had a 5.3 household rating.
That wasn’t a big surprise. In five games this season carried both by Sun Sports and ESPN, the regional network has averaged a 7.3 household rating compared to a 3.6 rating for the national service on ESPN.
Of course it isn’t just the telecasts that have risen with the length of the streak. In a year in which sales of NBA licensed merchandise have fallen by about 25 percent overall, sales of Heat licensed merchandise is up 30 percent compared to 2012 (when sales were boosted by “Linsanity”), according to the SportsOne Source research firm. The sales of Heat goods are up 40 percent since the streak began.