OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It was the closest game of the series and it resulted in the highest overnight rating for the 2016 NBA Finals. ABC received an 18.9 overnight rating for the game that made history for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the city of Cleveland, LeBron James and the entire Northeast Ohio region. The overnight rating is the highest ever for an NBA game on the network.

The game peaked with a 25.5 overnight number in the last quarter-hour of the telecast from 10:30-10:45 p.m. ET.

In addition, it’s the highest-rated sports telecast on either ABC or ESPN since 2006 and its up 7% from the last time ESPN produced an NBA Finals Game 7 for ABC, the 2013 Miami-San Antonio series which garnered a 17.7 overnight rating.

The 18.9 also outdrew the previous best overnight rating for an NBA game on ABC, the 18.2 for 2010 NBA Finals Game 7 between Boston and Los Angeles.

Now when the final numbers come out later today, we should see a viewership of close to 30 million viewers which would be impressive, but not close to the NBA Finals viewership record of 35.9 million for Game 6 of the 1998 Finals between Chicago and Utah. But in this day and age, getting close or even surpassing 30 million would be quite an accomplishmemnt.

Cleveland led all local markets for Game 7 with a 46.3 rating, the second-highest for an NBA game there. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose received a 39.4 which is also the second-highest rating for an NBA game locally.

For WatchESPN, NBA Finals Game 7 became its most-watched pro basketball game to be streamed online with 1.76 million unique visitors and an average minute audience of 598,000.

So this Game 7 reasonated with viewers and the proof is in the numbers.

UPDATE: ESPN has announced that Game 7 averaged 30.799 million viewers which makes it the most-watched NBA Finals game since 1998. The audience peaked at 44.5 million viewers between 10:30 and 10:40 p.m ET. The game also averaged a 15.7 rating once again, the highest number since 1998.

After Cleveland and San Francisco, the Top Ten markets for Game 7 are as follows: Columbus (30.1), Miami (24.3), San Antonio (23.6), Sacramento (23.3), Memphis (21.7), Atlanta (21.3), Dayton (21.0) and Norfolk (20.7).

Last night was the most-watched NBA game in ABC’s history.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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