/// ABC to Draw Big Stats With LeBron, Dwyane, and Dirk?
Chicago’s epic meltdown in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals last Thursday did TNT no favors, but it set up the greatest possible title matchup for ABC. Boasting a 77-65 lead over the Heat with 3:12 left in Thursday night’s game, the Bulls were all but assured a trip back to Miami. But as a packed United Center watched in horror, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade began raining threes over Chicago’s vaunted defense, willing their way to an 83-80 victory and a trip to the title series. The stunning reversal robbed TNT of at least one bonus game of inventory, or roughly $9.75 million, given an estimated spot rate of $235,000. (This figure represents the end result of some rudimentary back-of-the-cocktail-napkin math and does not take into account full-series sponsorships and integrations.) Whatever TNT may have lost in the near term, it gained an inordinate amount of promotional consideration for its upcoming original series Franklin and Bash (June 1) and Falling Skies (June 19). More importantly, the ratings for the series will go a long way toward allowing TNT to command greater carriage fees in upcoming negotiations with cable and satellite TV operators. (According to SNL Kagan, TNT takes in $1.03 per sub per month, putting its annual affiliate haul at around $1.25 billion. TNT boasts the second-richest sub fee; by comparison, top dog ESPN takes in $4.40 per sub per month.) TNT averaged 10.4 million viewers with the five-game Bulls-Heat set, up 38 percent from a year ago. Going back to the beginning of the postseason, the Turner network averaged a record