fb-pixel Skip to main content

NBA ratings are down, but not so with the Celtics

Kemba Walker and the Celtics are talented, entertaining and likable, enjoying strong local TV ratings this season.Elise Amendola/Associated Press/Associated Press

Catching up on some sports media odds and ends while wondering what Patriots fans will make of the unfamiliar Andrew Catalon/James Lofton/Amanda Balionis broadcast team calling Sunday’s game . . .

■  NBA ratings are down 15 percent nationally this season, and the search for reasons is a broad one. The China controversy might be a small part of it, but I tend to ascribe more credence to the notion that there is no singular must-see marquee team right now. The Warriors were scheduled to be on national television 30 times this season, an option that isn’t so appealing now that Stephen Curry has joined Klay Thompson on the sidelines and their leading scorer on many nights is someone named Eric Paschall. The Lakers are emerging as that marquee team, and LeBron James wears a villain’s cape well, but they haven’t caught on yet. I suspect ratings will turn for the better after the Christmas Day games, when rivalries are reestablished and the new league order is clearer.


■  Locally, it’s been a good year for NBC Sports Boston and its Celtics ratings. (Fans appreciate watching a group of likable, talented players who seem to enjoy playing together. Go figure.) Ratings are up year-over-year, meaning from the same point last season. Thursday night’s 76ers-Celtics game earned a 4.03 household rating for NBC Sports Boston, its fourth-highest-rated game of the season. Pretty impressive given that the game also aired on TNT. In the Boston market, the NBC Sports Boston broadcast outdelivered the TNT broadcast by nearly 400 percent in total audience.

■  WEEI is still sorting out its Red Sox radio broadcast booth for next season, but it’s clear from talking to some people that were involved in the assortment of voices alongside Joe Castiglione last season that it’s going to be a more streamlined operation in 2020. Expect Sean McDonough, whose contributions earned rave reviews, to call a similar number of games to this past season (he was in the 30s). One voice I’d like to hear more of on play-by-play is Will Flemming, who began as the studio host this past season but developed good-humored chemistry with Castiglione and McDonough along the way and called several games as the season went on.


■  NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics broadcast is usually enjoyable no matter what. But a certain high point comes when there’s a flashback clip to something that happened years ago — such as a couple of nights ago, when an old clip of Danny Ainge burying a bunch of 3-pointers was shown — and you get to hear Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn’s in-the-moment call of that game 30-something years ago. Then it cuts back to live action and you get Mike and Tommy now. Gotta love that institutional knowledge.

■  The Sports Hub didn’t have to go far to find its next program director. Mike Thomas, who oversaw the sports station’s immediate and prolonged success from its inception in 2009, announced in October that he was leaving to become market manager at ESPN 1000 in Chicago, where his family has roots. He will be replaced by Rick Radzik, who has been the assistant program director at the station since the start. Radzik is a popular choice among Sports Hub personnel and has a long history in Boston radio, including 15 years as a producer at WBZ-AM during which he produced the station’s Bruins broadcasts.


■  Nielsen Audio ratings for the three-month fall period are released to the stations the day after Christmas. The Sports Hub is highly likely to finish first in the men 25-54 demographic again, having finished first in both of the first two months of the period (WROR was second both months). One interesting development worth watching: “The Greg Hill Show” on WEEI was doing well, drawing an 11.6 share in November (including a 0.2 total for streaming and its WVEI Providence share among Boston listeners). Last fall, WEEI’s morning program, featuring Gerry Callahan and Mike Mutnansky, had a 10.2 (8.4 before streaming/WVEI was added). Hill’s show remained behind The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” program in October (12.8) and November (12.7), but its success is a pretty decent rebuttal to those that declared the station doomed after Callahan was fired.

Related: Sports Hub scores a summer ratings win over WEEI

■  Callahan, who spent 20 years as a morning drive host on WEEI, is back with a new eponymously titled podcast that launches Jan. 6. It will be available Mondays through Thursdays before 10 a.m. on the usual podcast platforms and is already available for subscription on Spotify. Now comes the tough part: explaining to his basic demographic of Archie Bunker clones what a podcast is and how to find the darn thing.

■  Pick the most annoying and tiresome sports radio topic you can think of, any topic, and I guarantee you I’d rather listen to that for 24 hours straight without sleep than one more syllable of Glenn Ordway lecturing listeners about Colin Kaepernick.


■  A couple of readers have asked in recent weeks, and the answer is no, Ch. 5 has not named a sports director since Mike Lynch retired in August. Bob Halloran and Josh Brogadir both have the anchor/reporter title.

■  Hawk Harrelson over Ned Martin for the Ford C. Frick Award? Really? Mercy.

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.