By Jim Williams
Special to S.F. Examiner
There can be no denying that the Bay Area is caught up in playoff fever with the Warriors looking to earn a third straight NBA title at the same time the Sharks are in the Western Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs facing the St. Louis Blues.
KGO ABC 7 — the over-the-air home of the Warriors — along with KNTV NBC Bay Area, plus NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California on the cable side are loving following the playoffs as much as the fans.
The Warriors playoff games will continue to air on ESPN/ABC and TNT. If they make it to the NBA Finals, then all the games will air on ABC 7.
“Having the Warriors on ABC 7 is everything to us and we enjoy our role as their Bay Area broadcast home,” said KGO President and General Manager Tom Cibrowski. “We have seen a steady rise in the ratings and a growing fan base over the past four years, and, as a matter of fact, our ratings this season are up by double digits.”
Cibrowski was also clear that ABC 7 was committed to making sure they serve the fans with as much Warriors coverage as possible both through their newscasts as well as during their postgame show that airs after each playoff home game, hosted by sports director Larry Beil.
“Larry and his team has done a great job with After the Game,” Cibrowski said. “We do it courtside with player and coaches interviews along of course postgame analysis.”
With the games airing on ESPN/ABC and TNT, NBC Sports Bay Area has been doing extensive pre- and postgame shows. Warriors Pregame Live, Warriors Postgame Live, Warriors Outsiders and Warriors Playoff Central have all been expanded.
Nationally, both ESPN and TNT are seeing monster ratings on Warriors playoff games. The Golden State/Houston series has averaged 6,915,000 viewers, which is +78% larger than the average audience for the three other Conference Semifinals series combined. Games 1 and 3 of the Golden State/Houston series (both averaged 7.3M viewers) are currently ABC’s most-viewed Conference Semifinals games since 2012.
The Bay Area topped the local ratings as Friday night’s telecast of the decisive Game 6 delivered an 18.7 rating in the San Francisco-Oakland market and a 13.2 rating in the Houston market. The third-highest rated market was Portland (9.0 rating), followed by Sacramento (8.1 rating) and Atlanta (7.7 rating)
Nationally, ESPN generated its highest-rated NBA Western Conference Semifinals telecast ever with Friday’s telecast of Warriors-Rockets. The telecast drew a 5.8 metered market rating, peaking with a 7.2 rating from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen.
The Sharks have held their own on the ice, as well. As a matter of fact, the local rating for Game 7 was an impressive 5.2 — the second-highest in Sharks history on NBC Sports Network, which aired Game 1, and could air as many as two more games of the series. If San Jose makes the Stanley Cup Finals, all games would air on NBC.
“Fans can tune in to our local coverage with a live pre-game show from 4:30 – 5 p.m., then we’ll be on again with post-game coverage immediately following the game,” said Stephanie Adrouny, Vice President of News of NBC Bay Area. “Anchor Raj Mathai will be live at the Shark Tank along with sports reporter Colin Resch and a team of reporters with game analysis and fan excitement. We will be covering it from all angles. “
While the games will air on NBC and NBC Sports Network locally, NBC Sports California will play a big role as the will have expanded coverage with a one-hour pregame show before the national broadcast, and once the game is over with Sharks Playoff Live. There will also be extended editions of Sharks Morning Skate.
So now that you know where to watch the games how do the local experts think things are going. Let’s begin this time with the Sharks and the Blues Western Conference Final.
“I think the level of excitement from a Sharks perspective, is that the group only appears to be getting stronger as these playoffs extend. The Captain Joe Pavelski’s return at the end of last round was profound. Defenseman Erik Karlsson continues to look healthier from a nagging groin injury at the end of the season. And goalie Martin Jones’s performances went from a question mark to an absolute exclamation point in the last few weeks. In the battle against attrition, they seem to be winning, said Sharks Playoff Edition host Brodie Diaz.