It's one of the most popular conversations. How much will the NBA and ABC suffer if the ideal Finals matchup of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn't pan out?
Millions of dollars? Tens of millions?
Actually, the answer is closer to no loss of money at all and that's even if the worst case scenario of the Nuggets-Magic matchup comes to fruition.
Sure, Kobe and LeBron give the league and ABC the chance for a perfect storm, but it's not only the stars that lead to ratings gold.
Case in point, James and the Cavaliers played in the 2007 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. It was the lowest rated Final of all time.
One of the contributors to that number was the all important market size. But the most important factor is quality and length of the series. You'll remember that the Spurs swept the Cavs that year.
In fact, a series between the Cavs and the Lakers that isn't competitive and is a sweep might do worse than a series between the Magic and the Nuggets that is close and goes seven games, according to Neal Pilson, former president of CBSSports, who runs his own television consultancy firm.
"The only people who pay attention to the ratings potential is the media," Pilson said. "At this point, about 95 percent of the advertising has been sold and and the sponsors are there for the long haul. They understand that the numbers fluctuate from year to year."
If anything is affected from a final rating this year, Pilson said, it's that next year's price for spots could be upped or lowered. But that's also dependent on the overall economy and the ad market.
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