The NBA Finals ended last night with the Raptors defeating the injury-depleted Warriors at Oracle Arena.
It was an odd series on the court; the Warriors only had Kevin Durant for a few minutes of Game 5 before a ruptured Achilles ended his Finals (and perhaps ended both his time with the Warriors and his 2019-2020 season, too), and then they lost Klay Thompson to a torn ACL last night.
Off the court, the ratings were also a bit strange. The lack of two U.S. home markets meant that the numbers were deflated from recent years. Canada may have gone crazy watching the Raptors, but those millions of viewers obviously didn’t count for ABC. So while total fan interest in North America was high, some of the U.S. ratings have disappointed a bit. Last night’s Game 6 is a great example; it pulled in a 13.2 U.S. overnight rating, which is in the middle of some previous Game 6 numbers dating back to 2000. It’s also slightly down from Game 5, but it is easily the second-highest rating for the series.
?2019 #NBAPlayoffs on ABC & ESPN finished UP from both 2018 & 2017 in overnight ratings.
?#NBAFinals Gm 6 peaked w/ 17.5 rating, higher than every qt hour in 2018 Finals, up 8% from Game 5 peak.
?Strong 13.2 for Gm 6 lifts Finals on ABC to win night for 70th straight time. pic.twitter.com/E8ngKDSLRP
— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) June 14, 2019
NBA Finals Game 6 overnights, past two decades: pic.twitter.com/dXmGfep9zl
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) June 14, 2019
As Paulsen notes at Sports Media Watch, Thursday’s overnight is down from the last couple of Game 6 numbers, but right in line with ones from before that:
Thursday’s Raptors-Warriors NBA Finals Game 6 earned a 13.2 overnight rating on ABC, down 6% from 2016 (14.1) and down 17% from 2015 (15.9), both of which were Warriors-Cavaliers matchups. There were no comparable games last year or in 2017.
The 13.2 is the lowest for a Game 6 in the NBA Finals since Celtics-Lakers in 2010 (12.3), but overall ranks a middle-of-the-road fifth out of the last ten (dating back to 2000). It trails the two Warriors-Cavaliers games, Spurs-Heat in 2013 (14.7) and Mavericks-Heat in 2011 (15.0).
That sounds about right, doesn’t it, all things considered? The Warriors have a built-in fatigue, and while generally the idea of seeing them get knocked off would be an exciting ratings prospect, they weren’t really “the Warriors” without Durant and, then, without Klay. Throw in the non-American home market (and the first NBA Finals without LeBron James since 2010 and you get a recipe for the ratings we did indeed receive. And while the overall U.S. playoff ratings were up, that has a lot to do with the Finals going six games instead of four (2018) or five (2017).