The last NBA game before a presumably lengthy work stoppage earned strong numbers for ABC Sunday night.
Sunday’s Game 6 between the Mavericks and Heat earned an 15.0 overnight rating on ABC, up 22% from last year (BOS/LAL G6: 12.3), and up 17% from 2008 (LAL/BOS G6: 12.8).
The 15.0 is the highest overnight for Game 6 of the NBA Finals since 2000 (IND/LAL G6: 17.3), and the highest for a Game 6 that did not involve the Lakers since 1998 (CHI/UTA G6: 22.9).
By comparison, Heat/Mavericks Game 6 in 2006 drew an 11.1 overnight.
Overall, Sunday’s game drew the third-highest overnight for an NBA game on ABC since the network acquired rights to the league in 2002, behind only Lakers/Pistons Game 5 in 2004 (15.5*) and Celtics/Lakers Game 7 in 2010 (18.2).
Compared to other sports, Game 6 drew a higher overnight than the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game (CON/BUT: 13.3, CBS), and every game of the 2010 World Series. Excluding the NFL, the only sporting event to draw a higher overnight this year was the BCS National Championship Game (AUB/ORE: 16.1, ESPN).
Since the current scheduling format began in 2004, final ratings for Game 6 of the NBA Finals have declined between 9% and 16% from the overnight, putting Sunday’s game on pace to finish in the 12.5-13.6 range.
Should the final rating equal 12.2 or higher, the NBA Finals will average a double-digit rating for the second straight year.
Game 6 drew an 36.2 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, up 11% from Game 5 (32.7), and up 9% from Game 6 in 2006 (33.3).
In Dallas-Ft. Worth, the game drew a 39.8 — up 24% from Game 5 (31.9), and up 1% from 2006 (39.6). This marks the first and only time this series that any game has topped 2006 in the Dallas market.
The game set local ratings records in both markets.
* According to ESPN, Game 5 of the 2004 Lakers/Pistons NBA Finals drew a 15.5 overnight. However, multiple reports at the time had the game drawing a 15.4.
(This year’s numbers from espnmediazone3.com)