Abbreviated NBA Finals May Depress ABC's Ad Revenue

LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Championship - H 2012
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LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Championship - H 2012

The Miami Heat trounced the Oklahoma City Thunder in just five games. For NBA Finals MVP LeBron James -- whose team suffered a humiliating Game 6 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in last year's championship series -- it was “about damn time.” But ABC executives probably were hoping for a little more time.

This year’s series averaged about 14 million viewers over four games. And when ratings for Game 5 come in later today, it will no doubt raise that average. But another game -- or two -- would have meant more ad revenue for the network.

In 2011, ABC pulled in $172 million in ad revenue, according to estimates from Kantar Media. And the deciding Game 6 was watched by 23.8 million viewers for an average of more than 17 million viewers over six games.

In 2010 an exciting seven-game NBA Finals in which the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics earned an estimated $180 million in ad revenue for ABC.

That series brought the Lakers franchise its 16th NBA championship, second only to the Celtics’ 17. And Game 7 was watched by a stunning 28.2 million viewers.