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The once great Boston Celtics dynasty must be feeling pretty restored right about now after Wednesday night’s 116-100 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals. When it comes to viewership, though, the league itself is probably is a little meh.
Pulling in an audience of 11.5 million on ABC, according to Nielsen, the Jimmy Kimmel-bookend Game 3 was up 28% from Game 3 of the pandemic protocol-dominated 2021 NBA Finals of July 11 last year. However, compared with the old normal of the 2019 NBA Finals, Wednesday’s game was down 12% in sets of eyeballs from the comparable Warriors-Toronto Raptors game three years ago.
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The 2019 series, which saw the Raptors beat the Warriors, saw geography prove a hinderance to the league as it only had one U.S. market to rely on for ratings. Even with the Warriors’ strong national following, the 2019 Finals slid to ratings lows not seen since George W Bush was in the White House.
As the Celtics lock in a 2-1 lead going into Friday’s Game 4, this year’s Finals have stayed pretty steady unto themselves. Game 3 dipped around 4% from the June 5 Game 2 on the Disney-owned broadcast network. Game 2’s ABC viewership was almost exactly the same as that of the June 2 Game 1 audience.
Still, the NBA has again proven a clear winner for ABC against its immediate rivals. Juicing the night with a President Joe Biden sit-down with Kimmel after the game, the net smoked NBC, CBS, Fox and The CW in all categories and demographics Wednesday.
And, like in sports, a win is always a win.
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