No one should be happier about the Brooklyn Nets’ pending acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce than the sales force at the YES Network, where ratings for the basketball team’s telecasts more than doubled last season from the year before.
The addition of Garnett, a former National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, and Pierce, a 10-time All-Star, is expected to drive interest among sports fans in the nation’s No. 1 media market, enabling the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network to raise ad rates, said Lee Berke, president of Scarsdale, New York-based LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media.
Garnett and Pierce led the Boston Celtics to the 2007-08 NBA championship. In a deal that can’t be formally completed until July 10 under league rules, they are headed for Brooklyn as part of a trade that will send five players and three first-round draft picks to Boston, ESPN reported, citing unidentified people.
“It’s like adding movie stars to a great TV show -- you get more people to tune in,” Berke, who has worked with the Nets, said in a telephone interview. “You sell based off of expectations, and you’ve got a lot of expectations for this team next year. That will improve their ability to sell advertising.”
YES spokesman Eric Handler declined to comment immediately.
The Nets posted a 0.92 household rating over 73 games on YES last season, the team’s first in Brooklyn since relocating from New Jersey, up 130 percent from the year before. The New York Knicks posted a 3.07 rating over 67 games on the MSG Network, which, like the team, is a unit of MSG Co. Excluded are three games that weren’t rated because of Hurricane Sandy.
News Corp. (NWSA), the media company led by Rupert Murdoch, agreed last year to buy 49 percent of the YES Network in a deal that valued the regional sports channel at about $3 billion. News Corp. acquired the stake from the New York Yankees, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other investors. Murdoch can raise the stake to 80 percent after three years.
Brooklyn’s odds for winning the 2014 NBA championship dropped to 10-1 yesterday from 40-1 on June 21, according to the online sportsbook Bovada.lv. The Knicks are 22-1.
Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 35, bring veteran leadership and championship know-how to a team that announced Jason Kidd as coach this month. Kidd, 40, second in both assists and steals in NBA history, retired after spending last season with the Knicks and has no coaching experience.
NBA teams can’t complete trades until July 10, when the league’s moratorium on player signings and swaps is lifted.
The Nets were eliminated in seven games by the Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs. The Knicks beat the Celtics in five games in the opening round, then were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers.
The Nets will also get veteran Jason Terry in the trade, which, according to ESPN, will result in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round draft picks going to Boston along with Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans.
“Nets ratings had a dramatic uptick this past year and I would expect that the addition of Garnett and Pierce would continue that momentum,” Chris Bevilacqua, an industry consultant, said in an e-mail. “However, like all things in NYC, continued ratings success will ultimately come down to winning.”
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