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On the eve of the NBA Finals, a ratings postmortem on the regular season reveals that it was professional basketball’s most-watched season in four years.
Across the four networks with broadcast rights for the NBA, coverage was up an average 8 percent for the 2017-18 season — pulling nearly 1.3 million viewers to each game. That marks the sport’s most-watched regular season since 2013-14, boding well for the Finals.
Benefiting the most from the boom season was ABC. The broadcast network’s coverage was up a strong 17 percent, besting TNT (up 13 percent), ESPN (up 4 percent) and NBA TV (relatively steady, improved 1 percent).
“The idea that there is a super-team out there in the Golden State Warriors and a half-dozen franchises trying to dethrone them, creates a narrative that makes people want to watch,” Marc Ganis, president of the marketing firm Sportscorp, told The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the NBA season.
Also helping the NBA is its popularity among younger viewers. The median age for NBA viewers on TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 42, years younger than the NFL (50) and MLB (57).
Sixteen teams begin competing in the NBA Finals starting Sunday.