The sporting world was anticipating huge TV viewership for the NBA Finals between LA Lakers VS Miami Heat – but on the contrary, the first game of the finals series has proved to be a damp squib on the ratings charts.
Game one of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat averaged a 4.1 rating and 7.41 million viewers on US network ABC, making it the least-watched game of the champion-crowning series since at least 1988, according to Sports Media Watch.
The Lakers’ 116-98 victory over the Heat saw drops of 45 per cent in viewership and 48 per cent in ratings compared to game one of last year’s NBA Finals. That featured the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, with the series being held in its traditional slot of May and June.
Game one of this year’s finals, held on 30th September, was competing with the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. The previous low was a rating of 5.2 and viewership of 8.06 million in 2003 for game two between the Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs.
ABC’s game one broadcast was still the most-watched show that evening, while it also drew the best non-National Football League (NFL) viewership on TV since the Oscars in February, according to Sports Media Watch.
As leagues across the US continue to attempt to complete their truncated seasons, the revised schedule has meant more games from different sports overlapping, causing a dip in ratings compared to last year. According to Sports Media Watch, the viewership for the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Stanley Cup Final was down 61 per cent, while the audience for horse racing’s Kentucky Derby fell 43 per cent, and motorsport’s Indianapolis 500 suffered a 32 per cent drop.
The Lakers and the Heat head into game four of the NBA Finals on 7th October with the Miami franchise 2-1 up in the seven-game series.