The NBA Finals are hot.
Through the first two games of the Oklahoma City-Miami Heat title series, the TV ratings are up from last year.
Some possible reasons behind the surge:
1. People Love LeBron James: "People want to see what [he] is going to do," Trey Kerby, a writer for theScore.com's The Basketball Jones blog, said via email. "If that means he has a game like he did in Game 6 [of the Eastern Conference Finals] against the Celtics, where he dominates exactly how everyone always wants him to, that's great."
2. People Love to Hate LeBron James: "If he misses a game-winning jumper at the last second," Kerby said of the Miami Heat superstar/lightning rod, "even better. People just want to see him do something."
3. People Mean Women, Too: The opening Thunder-Heat game drew better, bigger ratings among the major female demographic groups, save teen girls, than summer's usual chick magnets such as The Bachelorette and America's Got Talent. Put that together with the monster business the games have been doing with men of all ages, and the series just about has every market cornered.
4. Kobe Bryant Is So 2010: No, the Los Angeles Lakers and their marquee star aren't in the finals (again), and, no, that hasn't mattered to the larger Nielsen public because, in addition to the Heat's James, the Thunder have a young marquee star of their own. "Getting a chance to see someone like [23-year-old Kevin] Durant begin their legacy is a huge draw," Kerby said.
5. Live Events Are Very Much Alive: While you can watch sports on alternative devices, and on your own schedule, why would you want to? Even something like the hockey's Stanley Cup series, which flailed in its first two outings on NBC, and overall was down from last year, perked up for the final game because people, and not just Hollywood, wanted to see the Los Angeles Kings do something the team had never done before.