Pelicans TV ratings show NBA's third-biggest increase

by Jim Eichenhofer

The inaugural New Orleans Pelicans season featured a seven-win improvement from 2012-13, a jump that likely would’ve been even greater if not for widespread injuries to the team’s roster. The Pelicans also made tangible strides in several areas off the court, including experiencing the third-largest local TV ratings increase of any NBA team.

With games broadcast for a second season on Fox Sports New Orleans, ratings for 2013-14 Pelicans games improved by 63 percent, the third-biggest increase in the league. The only teams with greater percentage increases were the Indiana Pacers (100 percent) and Phoenix Suns (86).

Fox Sports NOLA’s Pelicans broadcast team of Joel Meyers, David Wesley and Jennifer Hale is one of the most recognizable in the league. Meyers is spending what’s already been a thrilling postseason broadcasting NBA playoff games for TNT; Wesley is a recently retired New Orleans player who was still active until 2006-07; Hale is also an NFL sideline reporter for Fox who has over 45,000 Twitter followers.

“I think Joel and David having a second year together, they continue to improve,” said Mike Anastassiou, Senior Executive Producer for Fox Sports New Orleans. “We’re thrilled to have Jen Hale as part of our broadcast team. I think she gives us credibility in the marketplace, because she’s so well-known.”

“Joel and David just finished Year 2 together and the chemistry is building,” said Greg Bensel, Pelicans Senior Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting. “Joel is a professional play-by-play guy who studies not only our team and our opponents, but the league in general, and he brings a wealth of knowledge to the broadcast. David is a former player and brings immediate credibility to the broadcast. You add Jennifer Hale and her work courtside; I think we have tremendous on-air talent, that gets the respect of our coaches and players and that in turn makes the broadcast better.”

Anastassiou and Fox Sports NOLA implemented several technological improvements in 2013-14, but he says that perhaps the No. 1 reason behind the ratings increase was the team the Pelicans put together.

“We’d like to take credit for the ratings increase, but our ratings tend to go as the team goes,” Anastassiou said. “It’s a very intriguing team with a lot of young stars. We’re excited about this team and its future. That just makes for great broadcasts.”