Jun 12, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award with his daughter Ognjena Jokic after the Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Championship against the Miami Heat at Ball Arena. Looking on is Denver guard Jamal Murray (27) holds the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA Finals finished on a high note.

Monday’s Game 5 clincher for the Denver Nuggets over the Miami Heat averaged a series-high 13.084 million viewers on ABC. That’s not only the most-watched game of this year’s Finals, but also the most-watched Game 5 since Raptors-Warriors in 2019.

Game 5 was also the first time the 2023 Finals topped the comparable game in 2022 (Game 5 last year averaged 13.03 million viewers). Game 2 drew 11.91 million viewers both this year and last.

Overall, the series averaged 11.64 million viewers. As I wrote yesterday, that’s down from last year (which averaged 12.4 million), but up from both 2020 and 2021. However, it still finished behind every Finals matchup between 2008 and 2019.

So, what’s the overall verdict? While the NBA Finals is still not back to its pre-pandemic numbers (every Finals from 2010-2019 averaged at least 15 million viewers), this series could have ended up a lot worse, given how short it was and (with all due respect to both finalists) a lack of marquee teams in the series. But there wasn’t a steep dropoff compared to last year (the 2023 Finals were down something like 6% compared to 2022), and that might speak more to Warriors-Celtics underperforming more than anything else.

The league even touted that the playoffs as a whole averaged 5.47 million viewers, the most-watched playoffs in five years.

Given the white hot performance of the NBA Playoffs leading into the Finals, the overall viewership for the championship series is a disappointment, but not a disaster.

[Data via ShowBuzz Daily]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.