NBA Finals Sees Its Game 1 As Least-Watched June Opener In 15 Years

·2 min read

Two great teams. Lots of big stars. An exciting game. Big television markets. Momentum from a ratings rise during the regular season and playoffs.

And it all added up to the lowest ratings for Game 1 of the National Basketball Assn.’s June finals in many years.

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The Thursday night NBA Finals opener between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics was the least-watched Game 1 held in June since the San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, some 15 years ago.

Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, reports that Game 1 drew a 6.3 average of 11.9 million viewers, topping only the previous two Finals, which were held at odd times of the year for the league because of the pandemic.

“Pending any potential out-of-home lift, the Celtics’ comeback win declined 19% in ratings and 11% in viewership from Warriors-Raptors Game 1 in 2019, the previous Finals to take place June (7.9, 13.38M),” Lewis wrote. “It currently ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched Finals game involving Curry (29 telecasts), falling below Game 4 of the 2019 series (7.6, 12.79M).”

Lewis blamed waning interest for the ratings dip.

“… As strong as the NBA’s numbers have been at times this postseason, there were signs in recent weeks that the league’s momentum has slowed,” Lewis wrote. “Even last Sunday’s Celtics-Heat Game 7 was an underwhelming draw by historical standards, its mere 4.6 rating easily the lowest for a conference final Game 7 in the past 25 years. Out-of-home viewing made the audience figure look more respectable — nearly 10 million — but even that was the smallest audience for a conference final Game 7 since 2005.”

The two teams face-off again on Sunday.

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