Facing stronger than usual competition, overnight ratings for Game 3 of the NBA Finals declined from last year.
Game 3 of the Thunder/Heat NBA Finals drew a 10.4 overnight rating on ABC Sunday night, down 6% from Heat/Mavericks Game 3 last year (11.1), and down 10% from Lakers/Celtics Game 3 on a Tuesday night in 2010 (11.5).
The 10.4 overnight is the lowest for Game 3 of the NBA Finals since Lakers/Magic three years ago (10.1), and is the second-lowest for a Game 3 over the past five years. The two previous games in the series each drew an 11.8 overnight.
Competition from the final round of the U.S. Open on NBC almost certainly hurt the numbers. With that said, the NBA more than likely won the head-to-head battle comfortably.
The last time the U.S. Open encroached on the NBA Finals’ primetime territory — 2008 — Game 5 between the Celtics and Lakers drew a 12.6 overnight. Keep in mind the two events did not air directly opposite each other that year. Sunday coverage of the 2008 U.S. Open ended at 9 PM ET, which is when Game 5 of the Finals began.
Game 3 also faced competition from a Red Sox/Cubs Major League Baseball game on ESPN. However, despite the big names involved, the baseball game drew only a 1.0 overnight.
Sunday’s game drew a 41.9 rating in Oklahoma City, down 6% from Game 2 (44.4). For some perspective, Game 3 of the 1996 Bulls/SuperSonics NBA Finals — the last for the SuperSonics franchise before moving to Oklahoma City in 2008 — drew a 33.4 rating in Seattle.
The game drew a 29.6 in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, down 2% from Game 2 (30.3), and down 8% from Game 3 last year (32.3).
(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN Media Zone, ESPN)