The much-hyped 2012 NBA Finals got off to the best start in a decade.
Game 1 of the Heat/Thunder NBA Finals drew an 11.8 overnight rating on ABC Tuesday night, up 10% from Mavericks/Heat Game 1 last year (10.7), and up 14% from Celtics/Lakers Game 1 on a Thursday night in 2010 (10.4).
The 11.8 overnight is the highest for Game 1 of the NBA Finals since Nets/Lakers Game 1 on NBC in 2002 (13.0). The previous high for a Game 1 on ABC was an 11.6 for Pistons/Lakers in 2004.
This marks the highest overnight for a Game 1 of the NBA Finals that did not involve the Lakers since Bulls/Jazz Game 1 in 1998 (18.8).
Overall, Game 1 drew the eighth-highest overnight for a non-clinching NBA Finals game on ABC since the network resumed airing games in the 2002-03 season.
Dating back to 2000, final ratings for Game 1 of the NBA Finals have declined between 12% and 21% from the overnight, putting Tuesday’s game on pace to finish in the 9.3-10.4 range. Currently, the highest final rating for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC is a 9.8 for Pistons/Lakers in ’04.
Locally, Game 1 drew a 30.5 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, down 4% from Game 1 last year (31.9).
In Oklahoma City, the game drew a 44.4 rating, the highest ever for an NBA game in the market. For some perspective, SuperSonics/Bulls Game 1 in 1996 drew a 39.6 rating in Seattle.
(Tuesday’s numbers from ESPN Media Zone)