NBA Finals Ratings: Heat/Spurs Concludes With Second-Biggest Audience Since ’98

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Though the numbers were not quite as large as in 2010, Game 7 of the NBA Finals was still a massive television draw on Thursday night.

Game 7 of the Spurs/Heat NBA Finals drew a 15.3 final rating and 26.3 million viewers on ABC Thursday night, down 2% in ratings and 7% in viewership from Celtics/Lakers Game 7 in 2010 (15.6, 28.2M), and up 29% and 39%, respectively, from Pistons/Spurs Game 7 in 2005 (11.9, 19.0M). The game drew an additional 269,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes.

Thursday’s game ranks as the second-highest rated and second-most viewed NBA game on any network since Bulls/Jazz Game 6 in 1998 (22.8, 35.9M), trailing only Game 7 in 2010. The Heat have now played in two of the three most-viewed NBA games since 1998. [see chart]

Game 7 peaked with over 34.2 million viewers from 11:30-11:45 PM ET.

As should surprise no one, Game 7 was easily the most-viewed NBA game to ever involve the San Antonio Spurs, topping the previous high of 20.6 million for Tuesday’s Game 6.

Excluding the NFL and the Olympics, Spurs/Heat Game 7 ranks as the highest rated sporting event on any network in 2013 — edging the Alabama/Notre Dame BCS title game on ESPN (15.1). However, the BCS game finished with a slightly larger audience (26.38M to 26.31M).

The last Game 7 of a major championship series, Game 7 of the Rangers/Cardinals World Series in 2011, earned a 14.7 rating and 25.4 million viewers on a Friday night.

Thursday marked the conclusion of a major turnaround for the Heat/Spurs series. Games 1-3 each drew less than a 9.0 rating and fewer than 15 million viewers. Three of the final four telecasts drew a double-digit rating, and each of the four had at least 16 million viewers.

Among adults 18-49, Game 7 drew an 10.6 rating — down 7% from 2010 (11.4), but up 40% from 2005 (7.6). The 10.6 is the third-highest for an NBA game in the demo since 1998, trailing Celtics/Lakers in 2010 and Game 7 of the Lakers/Kings Western Conference Finals in 2002 (11.0).

The 10.6 rating in the demo is the highest for any television program since the Academy Awards (13.0), and topped the BCS National Championship Game (9.2) by 15%.

10 Most-Viewed NBA Games Since 1998

Asterisk (*) indicates series-clinching game
#
Date
Away Home
Net
Rating
Viewers
Round
Game #
1 Thu., 6/17/10 Celtics Lakers ABC
15.6
28.2M
Finals Game 7*
2 Thu., 6/20/13 Spurs Heat ABC
15.3
26.3M
Finals Game 7*
3 Sun., 6/12/11 Mavs Heat ABC
13.3
23.9M
Finals Game 6*
4 Sun., 6/2/02 Lakers Kings NBC
14.4
23.8M
WCF Game 7*
5 Mon., 6/19/00 Pacers Lakers NBC
14.7
22.4M
Finals Game 6*
6 Tue., 6/15/04 Lakers Pistons ABC
13.8
21.8M
Finals Game 5*
7 Tue., 6/18/13 Spurs Heat ABC
12.3
20.6M
Finals Game 6
8 Sun., 6/13/04 Lakers Pistons ABC
12.7
20.3M
Finals Game 4
9 Sun., 6/10/01 Lakers Sixers NBC
12.7
20.3M
Finals Game 3
10 Wed., 6/13/01 Lakers Sixers NBC
12.6
20.0M
Finals Game 4

(Wed. numbers from ESPN Media Zone [1] [2], with additional info from TV By the Numbers)

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