LeBron James’ special The Decision delivered big ratings for ESPN last night. The special, in which James announced his decision to join the Miami Heat, generated a 7.3 overnight rating from 9-10:15 p.m. ET, the highest rating for any program – on broadcast or cable – last night. It was also ESPN’s highest overnight rating for any non-NFL ESPN program this year. The telecast peaked with a 9.6 rating from 9:15-9:30 p.m., when James announced his choice.  The top three local markets were heart-broken Cleveland (26.0 metered market rating) and Columbus (14.2) and jubilant Miami (12.8). How large of an audience did James draw? Consider this: ESPN’s exclusive interview with Tiger Woods on March 21 posted a 0.4 metered market rating. ESPN’s exclusive interview with Alex Rodriguez on Feb. 9, 2009 generated a 0.9 metered market. The Decision was also a hit online, generating more than 300,000 unique viewers on ESPN3.com.

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