The Nielsen Co. estimates that 9.95 million people watched LeBron James announce on ESPN that he’s leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat, making it the third-most-watched program on cable television this year.
“The Decision” that aired Thursday night ranks behind the 12.3 million who watched the NFL Pro Bowl and 11.2 million who watched an episode of “ICarly” on Nickelodeon in January.
The special was of particular interest in Cleveland, where an estimated one in four homes with televisions tuned in.
James’ future can’t yet compare to Kobe Bryant’s present, however. More than 28 million people watched Bryant win his fifth championship last month in the seventh game of the NBA Finals between the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics.
Tourism promoters say James is giving South Florida a boost already.
The reservations team at the Fountainebleau Resort in Miami Beach says they’re getting asked about packages that include Heat tickets.
Prime 112 says athletes, sportscasters and regular diners want to know if they’ll still be able to get tables at the South Beach restaurant that’s bracing for even more popularity with celebrities.