The Golden State Warriors are back at the top of the NBA heap following their six-game Finals victory, and the overall viewership for the series is also in the books.
The Warriors’ series win averaged 12.4 million viewers on ABC, peaking with 13.99 million viewers for Game 6 per an ESPN release.
All six games drew a higher average viewership than the comparable games in the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-era matchups.
There will inevitably be a number of narratives spun about the viewership for the series, and many of those narratives can be true at the same time. The Finals were up double digits from both 2020 and 2021. They were also down double digits from every Finals from 2008 through 2019. Best in three years? True! Third-worst in fifteen years? Also true!
While playoff viewership rebounded in the early rounds compared to the pandemic seasons, it wasn’t really back to that pre-pandemic level. Turner’s coverage of the Western Conference Finals hit the network’s best mark since 2018, and ESPN’s coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals were the most-watched for that conference since 2018. NBA Finals viewership hit its highest mark since 2019. In context, that seems about right, doesn’t it?
The narrative is a little different with the NHL, which also had horrendous pandemic-era audiences, but rebounded wonderfully during both the Western and Eastern Conference Finals this month. However, the Stanley Cup Final matchup started off slowly, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if the “best viewership since 2019!” releases start being rolled out once either the Avalanche or Lightning are crowned champions.
Anyway. This Finals matchup could have drawn much better viewership, but at least it rose above the gutter levels of 2020 and 2021. We’re a long way from the LeBron vs (insert team from the West) matchups that dominated the last decade.