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NBA Playoff Ratings Up Across The Board In Round 1

Ratings are getting a big lift after being down in 2020.

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Courtesy: ESPN

NBA television ratings are storming back from a double-digit deficit late in the fourth quarter. Numbers from the first round are up, and they are sure to put a smile on the faces in New York City and Secaucus, New Jersey. 

The league averaged 3.06 million viewers across ESPN, ABC, and TNT during the first round of the playoffs. That is the highest average mark in three years and represents a 46% increase from the same time in last year’s COVID-induced Orlando bubble. The numbers are a 3% increase going back to the last “normal” year in 2019.

There was just one Game 7 in the entire first round, but it paid off big time in the tracking data. Sunday’s series finale between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers in Staples Center was the most-watched game of the first round. 

The dominant closeout performance by Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers averaged 5.49 million viewers on ABC. Ratings jumped 43%, and viewership went up 62% from ABC’s first-round Game 7 last year. A Nuggets victory over the Jazz on a Tuesday night in September.

TNT set a new mark for 2021 along the way. Thursday’s Game 6 battle between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers averaged 4.5 million viewers on TNT — the network’s largest opening round audience since 2018. The last season Lebron James spent in Cleveland brought in big ratings. Game 4 between the Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers that year posted 6.07 million viewers.

Looking ahead to the first couple of second-round games and it’s more good news for the NBA compared to last season. Sunday’s Game 1 matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the second round averaged 3.39 million viewers on ABC, up 102% from Celtics-Raptors on ESPN in a similar window but down 19% from Celtics-Bucks on ABC in 2019.

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ESPN Requiring Vaccine For Game Assignments

This email going out to third party staffers seems to indicate that it is a response to the new Covid protocols put in place by the NFL and NFLPA earlier this week.

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If you want to work for ESPN covering games this fall, you need to get your Covid-19 vaccine. A memo to freelance staffers obtained by Bobby Burak of Outkick.com says that as of August 1, the World Wide Leader will require an attestation of vaccination from all employment candidates.

ESPN has not yet commented on the memo.

This email going out to third party staffers seems to indicate that it is a response to the new Covid protocols put in place by the NFL and NFLPA earlier this week. The league has made it clear that vaccinated members of the media will have more access to the field and to players during the 2021 season.

More than half of all American adults are fully vaccinated. Shots are available to anyone that wants one.

Whether or not this policy changes the mind of someone that initially did not want a vaccine remains to be seen, but given the number of states using lotteries as extra incentive to get the shots, maybe the potential for freelance employment was bound to always be on the table.

For those wondering if ESPN is allowed to do this, the answer is yes. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said in the past that employers have the right to mandate vaccines of any type. Employees do have the right to take medical or religious exemptions and remain employed.

The exemption only applies to salaried employees. Private contractors would likely have to comply with company expectations in order to get a job.

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Rajai Davis Flubs Mike Trout Interview In First Broadcast Assignment

Davis made his broadcast debut on Youtube’s MLB Game of the Week.

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Courtesy: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Former MLB player turned broadcaster Rajai Davis has experienced one of the greatest highs a player can accomplish and now a head-scratching low to start his broadcasting career.

A hero of the 2016 World Series with his tying home run in Game 7, Davis got off to a rough start behind the mic on YouTube’s MLB Game of the Week between the Angels and Tigers. The analyst was supposed to ask Mike Trout a question while the broadcast team had the MVP on the mic but flubbed his first attempt.

“One thing, one thing I have for you man,” Davis started when his turn came to ask Trout a question. “It’s uh, it’s, it’s ya know, um … I just lost my train of thought.”

Veteran broadcaster Matt Vasgersian tried to play it off by telling Trout it was Davis’s first game, but then the former Indian hero remembered his question.

“I know what it is now, Trout, I’m back, I’m ready,” Davis said stepping back up to the interview plate. “Talking about Ohtani, how is he in the clubhouse? Is he the kind of guy where… does he speak English?”

Trout seemed flustered by the question but rolled with it and described how Ohtani is slowly becoming more comfortable communicating with his teammates using English.

Davis rightly asked Trout about his MVP-candidate teammate, but the framing needs a lot of work. Ohtani is smashing baseballs, and fanning batters left and right to an extent we haven’t seen since Babe Ruth. The historic season has Ohtani in a two-man AL MVP race with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who leads the majors with 22 home runs, barely edging Ohtani’s 19 dingers.

Davis wasn’t in the best logistical position to perform in his debut since Vasgersian and Mark Gubicza have hours of experience calling Angels games together. We’ll see if he gets another shot in the booth after speaking too much English in his debut.

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Brandon Marshall: No One Fears Giannis Antetokounmpo Anymore

Marshall has not been impressed with the Bucks or their star forward.

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Courtesy: Will Stitt

Fox Sports personality Brandon Marshall isn’t ready to respect the Milwaukee Bucks even if they make it to the NBA Finals. The former NFL player turned panelist on FS1’s First Things First spoke his peace on what it means if the Bucks survive this playoff gauntlet.

“Them moving forward, them advancing for me won’t be respected,” Marshall said. “You saw who they were in Games One and Games Two when the Nets were semi-loaded; they didn’t have James Harden. James Harden played 40 seconds in this series before he came back when he wasn’t supposed to, and they got ran off the court. So when you look at that I can’t respect it.”

The Bucks and Nets series has lived up to expectations in that many expected it to go seven games. Although, it’s been a seesaw to get there after the Bucks blew out Brooklyn 104-89 on Thursday night to force a Game Seven at the Barclays Center. 

The Hawks have impressed plenty of people with how they’ve handled Philadelphia en route to a 3-2 series lead, but Marshall isn’t in that camp.

“Unless we got the Hawks wrong then I can’t even respect that,” Marshall said. “The Hawks are playing great ball, but nobody picked the Hawks to be a contender this year. So they go on they beat the Hawks. Then you go on, and you got Philly… I can’t respect it.”

Marshall concluded his take by acknowledging the pressure on the shoulders of Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks have won 71% of their games over the past three years. According to ESPN, they will join four other teams in NBA history to have that much success and not make a Finals if they don’t pull off the feat this year.

“I don’t know if guys fear them anymore,” Marshall concluded. “I don’t know if anybody fears him (Giannis). We know what you are; you’re a one, two-trick pony, and that’s it.”

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