• Loading stock data...
Friday, July 19, 2024
Join us this September for Tuned In Request to Attend

NBA Finals Posts Disappointing Game 1 TV Viewership

  • Game 1 viewership for Warriors-Celtics was up over last two COVID-19 delayed Finals.
  • But matchup produced least-watched Game 1 in the Finals typical early-June time slot since 2007.
Jed Jacobsohn/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The matchup of the Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics, and a return to its normal June setting, was supposed to bring the NBA Finals back to pre-pandemic TV levels. But ESPN’s coverage of Game 1 produced disappointing numbers.

Yes, ABC’s telecast of Thursday night’s Game 1 drew more viewers than the past two COVID-delayed Finals. 

But taking those pandemic years out of the equation, it was the least-watched Game 1 in 15 years. Heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3, ESPN and the NBA are hoping for a bounce-back in TV ratings. 

The Celtics’ 120-108 win over the Warriors averaged 11.9 million viewers across ABC and ESPN2. 

That’s up 37% from last season’s Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns — which didn’t take place until July 6, 2021 due to COVID delays. 

But it was the least-watched Game 1 in the Finals’ typical early-June time frame since the San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 9.2 million viewers in 2007.  

The telecast peaked at 13 million viewers at 10:45 p.m. ET. It helped ABC win the night across all key demographics.

The game averaged a 19.6 rating in the Boston TV market, making it the highest-rated NBA game in the Boston market since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018.

The game drew a 22.5 rating in the San Francisco market, making it the highest-rated since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. 

After testing positive for COVID, ABC/ESPN’s play-by-play announcer Mike Breen is expected to return for Game 3 alongside analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Jaylen Brown Doubles Down on Nike Blame for Olympic Snub

Brown said he thinks Nike influenced the decision to pick Derrick White.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services on Monday sued retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre along with several other people and businesses to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S.

Judge in Mississippi Welfare Case Boots Brett Favre’s Lead Lawyer

The judge wrote he had a ‘pattern and practice of delicate deception.’
Apr 12, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen (8) and guard Devin Booker (1) and guard Bradley Beal (3) and forward Royce O'Neale (00) and forward Kevin Durant (35) huddle up before the final seconds of the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center.

The Suns Have Entered the NBA’s Uncharted, Punitive Territory

The NBA’s first $400 million team between payroll and projected luxury tax.

Everything To Know About the Jaylen Brown–Nike-Olympic Beef

It starts, as it often does, with a carefully parsed emoji.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

‘EA Sports College Football 25’: It’s More Than a Game


Featured Today

Jan 7, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium.
July 14, 2024

Without Hard-Line Bans, Pro Athletes and Personnel Will Keep Betting on Sports

Penalties often aren’t stringent or consistent enough to deter banned behavior.
Oct 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goddell speaks during the Don Shula Celebration of Life at Hard Rock Stadium.
July 13, 2024

The NFL Is Confident It Can Overturn the Sunday Ticket Verdict

The league may have good reason to believe it can win.
July 8, 2024

NFLPA Report Cards Have Become the ‘Talk of the Locker Room’ Across..

NFLPA report cards have become the ‘talk of the locker room.’

WBD at a Crossroads: NBA Rights Decision Could Determine Its Future

Financial analysts argue for a large-scale overhaul of the TNT Sports parent company.
July 18, 2024

Just Days to Go: NBA Media-Rights Ball Officially in TNT’s Court

TNT officially has the NBA media deals on its desk.
July 18, 2024

WNBA Appears Set to Extend Season to 44 Games in 2025

The Chicago Sky told season-ticket holders they ‘expect approval’ for change.

TopSpin 2K25 Brings the Legends of Tennis to Your Living Room

2K sports is reviving a classic with TopSpin 2K25.
July 18, 2024

NBA’s New Money Has Josh Hart Ready to ‘Play Until My Knees Fall Off’

Hart and Jalen Brunson recently appeared on ‘Front Office Sports Today.’
July 17, 2024

What the WNBA’s Windfall Could Mean for Player Salaries

The WNBA could hit its first million-dollar annual salary as soon as 2026.
July 17, 2024

A ‘Seismic Shift’ for Women’s Sports: WNBA Lands $2.2 Billion Rights Deal

ESPN, Amazon, and NBC will pay the WNBA $200 million annually.
July 17, 2024

WNBA Strikes It Rich With $2 Billion In Media-Rights Deals

The WNBA’s boom came at a perfect time.