Game 1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors trilogy brought in the ratings for ABC, a 12.4 overnight rating, but compared to the last two NBA Finals which involved the same two teams, the number was down. Last year’s Game 1 overnight saw a 13.1 off by 5% and down 4% from 2015 which registered a 12.9.

But even with the lower ratings, this year’s Game 1 is the 3rd-highest overnight for a Finals opener since Nets-Lakers averaged a 13.0 in NBC’s final year as NBA rightsholder in 2002.

The bright spot for ABC is that all three of the Cavs-Warriors Finals openers have registered over a 12.0 overnight.

The top five local markets shape up as follows:

  1. Cleveland — 33.4
  2. San Francisco-Oakland — 30.9
  3. Columbus — 17.3
  4. Memphis — 16.3
  5. Miami — 15.8

Cleveland’s rating is off 7% from last year when it averaged at 36.0 and down a whopping 19% from two years ago when the city had an astounding 41.4 rating. That’s Cleveland’s lowest rating for a Game 1 involving the Cavs even falling below the previous market low of 34.3 for Cavs-Spurs ten years ago.

San Francsico-Oakland’s rating was also down from last year falling 6% below the 32.8 it received in 2016.

Even with the lower numbers compared to the previous two Cavs-Warriors finals, ESPN/ABC execs still have to be confident that the Finals will bring high ratings. The NBA Finals continue to beat the competition in primetime and it marks the 56th consecutive time that a Finals game won the broadcast primetime ratings.

As for the online viewership, the Finals drew an average minute streaming audience of 496,000 viewers and that is up 43% from last year, but still nowhere near what the numbers would be on television.

[ESPN/Sports Media Watch]

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.