ABC’s NBA Finals coverage of Game 1 dropped around 5 percent in ratings from last year, but still had the third-highest viewer ratings for a Finals Game 1 since ABC started airing the series in 2003, according to ESPN.
Thursday night’s broadcast, which saw the Golden State Warriors dismantle the Cleveland Cavaliers by 22 points at Oracle Arena in Oakland, delivered a 12.4/24 metered market rating — down from last year’s best-ever 13.1/23 overnight rating (according to Nielsen). It’s the third consecutive year the Warriors and Cavs have faced off, with Golden State winning in 2015 and Cleveland winning in ’16.
Local ratings dropped 7% in Cleveland, which was the lowest-rated Game 1 for the franchise, including 2007’s matchup against the Spurs. Local ratings also dropped 6% in the Bay Area.
Thursday’s game also set several streaming records on ESPN, further punctuating the pull away from TV and toward mobile and desktop devices. Game 1 drew an average-minute streaming audience of nearly 500,000 viewers (496,000), up 43% from 2016. Additionally, it drew 1,546,600 unique viewers, up 54% from last year, and there were a total of 79,860,000 minutes streamed.
Last year’s Finals, as a whole, averaged 202 million viewers — the most for a championship series since 1998.
Game 2 between the Warriors and Cavs airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
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