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NBA star LeBron James show on ESPN posts huge ratings

(This entry has been updated.)

Just over 7 percent of households in the country's top TV markets caught ESPN's orgy of excess known as "The Decision" Thursday night in which NBA free agent/superstar LeBron James announced his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavs in order to "take my talents to South Beach" and join the Miami Heat because, he said on the show, "it is going to give me the best opportunity to win."

NBA player LeBron James announces his move to the Miami Heat.(Getty Images) Click on image to see gallery of fan reaction.

These numbers are preliminary - national numbers will be available this afternoon.

(Update: Nielsen said late Friday that its delivery of national numbers for all cable shows has been delayed and may not be out until Monday.)

But it's safe to say the show, which a trade paper reporter sniffily called "The Decision: After The Final Rose" - all you "The Bachelor" fans out there will get it, anyway -- was the country's most watched program from 9-10:15 p.m. Thursday.

For comparison sake, CBS's "CSI" repeat clocked a 4.8 rating from 9-10 p.m. in those 56 so-called "metered markets" - which means 4.8 percent of the country's TV homes were tuned in to the procedural crime drama episode they'd probably already seen once before.

Fox's reality series "So You Think You Can Dance" attracted 4.7 percent of households in those markets. ABC's summer cop drama "Rookie Blue" clocked 4.5 percent, and NBC's "Community" rerun marathon brought up the rear 1.6 percent. CW was running a repeat episode of CBS's long-go canceled vampire cop drama "Moonlight" and we couldn't find anyone who'd bothered to find out what its ratings had been in the metered market, which is probably just as well.

Disney-owned ESPN -- which, despite all the heat it's taken over its "LeBron Suck-Up Show," appears to know no shame -- bragged Friday morning the program snared its highest overnight non-NFL number of this calendar year to date.

Additionally, based on these overnight stats, ESPN bragged the telecast peaked with a 9.6 rating from 9:15-9:30 p.m., when James officially made the announcement.

Like a Greek tragedy, James got his largest audience in the city he was abandoning, Cleveland. Twenty six percent of the fine folk of that town, who have been rooting for him these past seven years, tuned in, only to have him stab them in the gizzard.

About 140 miles to the south, more than 14 percent of the equally fine folk of Columbus tuned in and got the same shock.

But, in Miami, LeBron got a chillier reception; 12.8 percent of homes in that city tuned in to find out whether he'd picked their team from among the many teams that had been chasing him.

Poor LeBron.

Let's put this in some perspective. Last night's "I'm LeBron James and You're Not Show" beat the audience for ESPN's exclusive "I'm Tiger Woods and I Love My Wife but I'll Be at the Masters Show" with the golf superstar way back on Sunday, March 21, 2010. That show posted a a mere 0.4 metered-market rating from 6-8 p.m.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  July 9, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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