Sterling saga draws TV viewers to Clippers series

NEW YORK — The Donald Sterling saga is drawing many more viewers to the Los Angeles Clippers’ NBA playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.

Sunday’s Game 4 was the first time the teams took the court after a recording of the Clippers owner’s racist comments surfaced a day earlier. It drew 6.5 million viewers on ABC, up a whopping 48 percent from the 4.4 million who watched Game 1 on the network just over a week prior.

Then Tuesday’s Game 5 was played hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban for Sterling and plans to try to force him to sell the team. It was also the Clippers’ first home game since the comments became public. More than 4.7 million viewers watched on TNT, up 34 percent from an average of 3.5 million for the previous two games on the network during the series. It was the highest-rated playoff game on cable this season, Turner Sports said Wednesday.

It’s common for TV ratings to increase as a series goes on, but not to this extent.

The interest in the Sterling story was evident even before the Clippers and Warriors took the floor Tuesday night. The nine minutes of pregame coverage on TNT, leading into the Wizards-Bulls game that opened the doubleheader, averaged 2.3 million viewers — a 45 percent increase from the previous 10 telecasts this postseason.

The Clippers lead their first-round series 3-2 and can advance with a win in Thursday’s Game 6.

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