NBA Finals Nikola Jokic Jun 9, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots the ball against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) during the first quarter in game four of the 2023 NBA Finals at Kaseya Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets can close out the NBA Finals on Monday night with a Game 5 win over the Miami Heat, but viewer interest in the series has faded as Denver’s dominance has grown.

The Nuggets’ 108-95 win in Game 4 on Friday night averaged a series-low 10.41 million viewers. Sports Media Watch notes that its the second least-watched Game 4 since 2007, ahead of just the bubble Finals in 2020 (which took place in October). Last year’s Game 4 between the Warriors and Celtics averaged 12.06 million viewers.

Notably, this is the first game of this series to fall behind the 2021 series in viewership. Two years ago, Bucks-Suns averaged 10.46 million viewers.

Viewership for Game 3 was better. 11.24 million viewers watched Denver’s 109-94 Wednesday on ABC, up from 2021 (9.25 million) and only slightly down from 2022’s series (11.52 million).

Through four games, the Finals are averaging 11.29 million viewers on ABC. That would comfortably top both 2020 (a record-low 7.49 million viewers in the bubble) and 2021 (9.91 million), but lags behind last year (12.4 million) and every other Finals since 2007.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility for this series to rebound and bounce past 2022, but that would require the Heat to win two in a row and take us to a Game 7 on Sunday night. That’s not an impossible outcome, but seems unlikely given the course of the first four games.

Given the viewership trends for the NBA playoff this year, the poor performance for the Finals is disappointing for the league. The NBA happily touted a nine-year first round high, an a 12-year high for the first two rounds, and an 11-year high heading into the Finals, but the positive talking points for the league have dried up here in June.

[Data via Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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