Ratings Roundup: Heat-Bulls Setting Records for TNT; Preakness Viewership Up

TNT’s coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals continues to pull in big numbers. Sunday night’s Game 3 between the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat logged 10.9 million total viewers and a household rating of 6.4, making it the second-most-watched NBA game in cable-television history. That mark falls short of only the series opener (11.1 rating) on May 15. Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night.

To date, TNT’s overall coverage of the NBA Playoffs has soared over the network’s coverage a year ago, averaging a 3.3 U.S. household rating (+27%), 5,273,000 total viewers (+33%) and 3,819,000 households (+30%)…

…Despite initial reports that ratings for NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Preakness Stakes were at their lowest since 2000, the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown actually drew 8.8 million viewers, a gain of 5% over last year’s race and was the second most-watched Preakness in five years, according to official national data provided Tuesday by Nielsen Co.

The national rating for Saturday’s race portion (5:56-6:41 p.m. ET) was a 5.6 rating/13 share, up 6% from last year’s 5.3/13 and the second-highest in five years. NBC Sports coverage of this year’s Preakness reached more than 3 million more viewers than ABC’s latest Preakness broadcast, in 2000, (8.8 million vs. 5.5 million, up 60%)…

…Fox Soccer Channel this year saw a 32% increase in viewership for UEFA Champions League games over 2010, its first year as U.S. broadcaster of the European soccer tournament. FSC averaged 186,000 viewers for 28 taped and live telecasts, up from 141,000 for the same number in 2010. Saturday’s Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United will be shown live on Fox at 2:45 p.m. ET. In December, Fox extended its exclusive rights with the tournament until the 2014-15 season…

…It was a rough weekend for the Stanley Cup Conference Finals on NBC and Versus as games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday saw a decline in numbers. Game 4 of the Vancouver Canucks-San Jose Sharks Western Conference series earned a 1.3 overnight on NBC Sunday afternoon, down 35% from last year’s Game 4 between the Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks (2.0). It should be noted that that game matched the highest rating for a Stanley Cup playoff game (finals not included) since the 2004-05 lockout.