TNT Breaks Cable Ratings Record With Magic/Cavs Game

TNT broke another record Tuesday night, as its coverage of Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals drew 10.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched pro hoops playoff game in cable television history.

Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic staved off another brilliant performance by Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 116-114 overtime win. TNT’s coverage bested ESPN’s previous record delivery, which stood for all of 24 hours.

On Monday night, ESPN drew 9.88 million viewers with Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, and while the record was short-lived, the game still stands as the most-watched basketball game (college or pro) to have aired on the sports network. (Of course, that could all change later this afternoon, when the deliveries for ESPN’s coverage of Game 5 of the Lakers-Nuggets tilt come through.)

Through the first four games of the Eastern Conference Finals, TNT is averaging 8.36 million viewers, up 34 percent over the network’s coverage of last season’s Spurs-Lakers shootout (6.21 million). The Turner net is also enjoying a surge of interest among the core demos, averaging 4.74 million viewers 18-49 (up 36 percent versus last year), 4.48 million adults 25-54, 3.21 million men 18-49 and 3 million men 25-54. All three of the latter demos are up 35 percent.

For its part, ESPN has averaged 4.43 million viewers over the course of 17 NBA Playoff games, an improvement of 16 percent versus its 2008 post-season run. ESPN’s coverage of three of the four Lakers-Nuggets games––sibling ABC carried Game 3––has drawn 8.62 million viewers.

On Saturday, May 23, ABC drew 8.73 million viewers with Game 3, making it the network’s most-watched NBA Conference Finals telecast ever.