- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The NBA Finals opened to a larger TV audience than they did in 2020, continuing the league’s postseason uptick. Ratings for Tuesday’s broadcast, however, are still well behind previous Finals openers.
ABC’s telecast of game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks averaged 8.56 million viewers in final same-day ratings from Nielsen, adjusting up from 7.68 million in earlier figures. The finals include out of home viewing and other adjustments that account for about 880,000 additional viewers. The game scored a 2.86 rating in the key ad demographic of adults 18-49, even with last year’s game 1.
The game is up by 15 percent from last year’s TV only audience, which attracted an all-time low (7.41 million viewers) for an NBA Finals opener, and 13 percent from the streaming-inclusive tally of 7.58 million (Tuesday’s numbers don’t include digital platforms). The 2020 Finals, played in a fan-free bubble in Orlando, began on Sept. 30, nearly four months after their usual place on the calendar.
Tuesday’s game — which comes about a month after the league’s usual early June berth for the Finals — is off by 37 percent compared to game 1 of the 2019 series between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors (13.51 million viewers).
This year’s series is the first NBA Finals since 2010 to feature neither LeBron James nor Stephen Curry, two of the league’s best known stars. Phoenix is the 11th largest media market in the United States, while Milwaukee ranks 37th. In both markets Tuesday, about 24 percent of TV homes were tuned into the game.
The improvement for the first game of the Finals follows sizable ratings increases for the earlier rounds of the NBA playoffs. Through the conference finals, playoff contests improved by 35 percent over 2020 to 3.7 million viewers on ESPN/ABC, TNT and NBA TV.
NBC’s America’s Got Talent was the most watched show other than the NBA telecast, drawing 7.24 million viewers.
July 8, 8:15 a.m. Updated with final ratings figures.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day