Sunday’s Heat/Celtics game earned the second-largest audience ever for an NBA game on cable television.
Game 4 of the Heat/Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Finals drew 11.068 million viewers on ESPN Sunday night, up 49% from Mavericks/Thunder Game 4 on a Monday night last year (7.410M), and up 39% from Magic/Celtics Game 4 on Memorial Day in 2010 (7.960M).
Compared to Bulls/Heat Game 4 on TNT last year, viewership for Sunday’s game increased by 13% from 9.770 million.
The game ranks as the second-most viewed NBA game ever on cable television, trailing only Heat/Bulls Game 1 last year (11.109M). This marks just the second time an NBA game on cable has topped eleven million viewers.
In addition, the game earned the largest NBA audience ever on ESPN (dates back to the 2002-03 season). Excluding NFL telecasts, Game 4 ranks as the eighth-most viewed sporting event in the history of ESPN — trailing only last year’s Japan/United States Women’s World Cup Final (13.458M) and six Bowl Championship Series telecasts.
Prior to 2011, the most-viewed sporting event in ESPN history had been a 1998 Cubs/Cardinals game (10.622). That event now ranks tenth.
Among adults 18-49, Sunday’s game drew a 4.9 rating — easily the highest of the night on broadcast or cable. In addition, the 4.9 ranks as the highest for any television program since the season finale of ‘American Idol’ almost two weeks ago (6.4).
(Sunday’s numbers from TV By the Numbers)