The NBA's television partners, ESPN/ABC and TNT, have received robust demand for their ad inventory for this year's playoffs.

Ad slots have already been between 85 percent and 95 percent sold at a percentage rate increase over last year in the high single digits.

“The NBA playoffs are still a marquee event that attracts a loyal and hard to reach demographic,” says Jeff Gagne, SVP, strategic investment at Havas Media, “and most advertisers won’t shy away because the regular season was down.”

“We’re pacing ahead of last year,” says Jim Minnich, VP, revenue & yield management, Disney Advertising Sales, referring to ESPN and ABC, which are sold jointly under the Disney umbrella. “Games 1, 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals are already sold out.”

The playoffs allow advertisers to target a younger, more diverse male audience that is difficult to reach on TV this time of the year.

Media buyers say 30-second spots in first-round games average between $50,000 and $60,000 on ESPN and TNT and between $75,000 to $85,000 on ABC.

Movies have typically been big spenders during the NBA playoffs ahead of their summer premieres.

“We try to accommodate the studios as best we can,” Minnich said. “We are open to executing longer form ads and trailers for them.”

ESPN actually ended the regular season with flat viewership vs. last season, averaging 1.6 million viewers per telecast. ABC was down 3% in viewers, averaging 3.7 million, while TNT was down 13% in viewers, averaging 1.5 million.

“Ratings in the regular season mean nothing in the playoffs,” said Zenith’s Neil Vendetti. “Relative to whatever other TV programming is on during the playoffs, the NBA will get the biggest audiences of anything on TV.”