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Saturday, April 18, 2015

About That Basketball Audience of a Billion (US lie about popularity of their US sport)

“Not since James Naismith first cut the bottom out of a peach basket, perhaps, has there been a more historic basketball game, watched by an estimated worldwide television audience of one billion, including two U.S. presidents gawking from the stands,” the Winnipeg Free Press wrote, not about the Lakers-Celtics NBA finals in June, but about the U.S.-China men’s basketball game on Sunday night.
Olympics basketball

Did one billion people really watch Yao Ming and Lebron James on Sunday? (Reuters Photo)
The count of presidents (George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush) checks out, but the frequently repeated claim this week that one billion TV viewers tuned in world-wide is questionable. There are no truly global TV ratings, at least no reliable ones. And numbers from the U.S. and China — which combined have about one in four of the world’s population and most of those people who cared about the game — suggest just 100 million people tuned in.
The 12-hour time difference between Beijing and New York limited the potential audience. The game was played at 10 p.m. Beijing time so it could be shown live in the morning hours across the U.S. According to AGB Nielsen Media Research, a television-tracking company, about 89 million people in China watched at least part of the game, the average audience was 37 million. That’s more than tuned in for any game played by Chinese star Yao Ming in the NBA this year, but it wasn’t even the biggest audience for an Olympic event that day: Chinese weightlifter Long Qingquan’s gold-medal victory beat out China’s 31-point loss. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the game averaged 11.5 million viewers, “pretty good for a Sunday morning basketball game,” NBC Sports spokesman Adam Freifeld told me.
These TV numbers are estimates, of varying accuracy. In the U.S., Nielsen takes steps to cover the entire country, though some viewers, such as those at sports bars — presumably a small group on Sunday mornings — remain elusive. In China, the Nielsen numbers are based on 14 provinces and cities nationwide. Globally, numbers are harder to come by, with most countries not yet measured reliably. As I’ve written before, claims of TV audiences topping a billion usually are mere hyperbole.
It’s not clear where the estimate of one billion TV viewers originated. It may have been one of those numbers tossed out, casually and imprecisely, and seized

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