NBA Finals Crushes Stanley Cup Finals In TV Ratings
June 5 / Jake O'Donnell / SportsGrid
Although Kyrie Irving's injury might mean that this series could be over sooner than they'd like, Game 1 of the NBA Finals was a cash cow for ABC. Finishing with an average rating of 12.9 -- peaking at 15.6 from 11:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. ET -- Thursday night's Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals opener was the highest-rated Game 1 since ABC acquired the broadcasting rights in 2003. For measure, Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals garnered a 5.463 on Wednesday night.
The highest-rated NBA Finals game ever was Game 7 of 1988's Lakers-Pistons series, which managed a staggering 21.2. All things considered, if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were healthy enough to take this series the distance, ABC might've been dealing with the most watched basketball game in television history a week from now (which almost certainly would happen if LeBron managed to will this team to a Game 7). The most watched series since Nielsen started measuring viewership occurred in 1998 when the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in six games, resulting in a 18.7 average rating. That record's still in the cards for the 2015 Finals, even though people have already begun using the word "sweep" in the Cavaliers' preemptive obituary.
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