As anyone could have reasonably expected, the uncompetitive opener of the Grizzlies/Spurs Western Conference Finals was a major-league dud for ABC.
Game 1 of the Grizzlies/Spurs NBA Western Conference Finals drew a 3.9 overnight rating on ABC Sunday afternoon, down 41% from Celtics/Heat Game 1 on ESPN last year (6.6), and down 26% from Thunder/Mavericks Game 1 on ESPN in 2011 (5.3). Compared to Game 1 of last year’s Thunder/Spurs WCF on TNT, the 3.9 is also down 32% from a 5.7 overnight.
Grizzlies/Spurs Game 1 ranks as the lowest rated conference final opener in the metered markets since 2007, when Cavaliers/Pistons drew a 3.5 on TNT and Jazz/Spurs drew a 3.8 on ABC.
The game also drew ABC’s third-lowest overnight of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, ahead of only Grizzlies/Thunder Game 1 (3.8) and Celtics/Knicks Game 1 (3.7), and the network’s third-lowest conference final overnight ever (11 telecasts). Only Games 1 and 3 of Spurs/Jazz in 2007 earned lower numbers (3.8 for both games).
Not only is Grizzlies/Spurs a match-up of the 36th (San Antonio) and 49th (Memphis) largest television markets, but it also lacks any mainstream star. With that said, even that could be overcome if the game was any good; much like the Jazz in 2007, the Grizzlies failed to show up at all in Game 1 and were blown off the court.
Grizzlies/Spurs Game 1 was not even the top NBA playoff game of the weekend. On Saturday night, Knicks/Pacers Game 6 drew a 4.1 overnight on ESPN, down 26% from Sixers/Celtics Game 7 on ABC last year (5.5) — though a decline could be expected, considering that last year’s game was a Game 7 on broadcast television.
The game drew a 17.1 rating in Indianapolis, the third-best ever for an NBA playoff game on ESPN in the market, and up 40% from Thursday’s Game 5 on TNT (12.2). In New York, Game 6 drew a 9.8 rating — the highest ever for an NBA playoff game on ESPN in the market, and up 17% from Game 5 (8.4).
(Weekend numbers from ESPN)