Golden State sent Houston home for the season on their home court Friday night, eliminating the Rockets in six games despite the absence of Kevin Durant.

It wasn’t a game 7, nor was it the conference finals, and the Friday night timeslot isn’t a traditional winner. Despite all of that, the game still managed to pull in a very solid rating for ESPN:

Via ESPN’s release;

ESPN generated its highest-rated NBA Western Conference Semifinals telecast ever on Friday as the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinals series. The telecast drew a 5.8 metered market rating, peaking with a 7.2 rating from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen. It is also ESPN’s second-highest rated Conference Semifinals telecast ever.

Overall, ESPN and ABC 2019 NBA Playoffs metered market ratings are up three percent from 2018, through 23 games. It is averaging a 3.3 rating. ESPNand ABC’s coverage of the 2019 NBA Conference Semifinals is averaging a 4.1 metered market rating, up 17 percent from 2018.

Last night’s telecast delivered an 18.7 rating in the San Francisco-Oakland market and a 13.2 rating in the Houston market. The third-highest rated market was Portland (9.0 rating), followed by Sacramento (8.1 rating) and Atlanta (7.7 rating).

The large markets in play certainly helped, as did the built in history between the Rockets and Warriors, a rivalry with the same appeal as Wile E. Coyote  and the Road Runner. ESPN’s note on the 3% increase is true, although as Sports Media Watch notes it isn’t the whole story:

Even though ratings have declined for the majority of games, the NBA Playoffs is now averaging a 3.3 metered market rating on ESPN/ABC — up 3% from last year. Averages across all networks were not available.

In other playoff action, Thursday’s Raptors-Sixers Game 6 had a 2.8 final rating and 4.41 million viewers on ESPN, up 8% in ratings and 5% in viewership from 2017 (Spurs-Rockets: 2.6, 4.19M). The Nuggets-Blazers nightcap had a 2.6 and 3.95 million.

So the highs are higher, through most of the first two rounds, even if a lot of individual games have lagged behind. Sunday’s Game 7 doubleheader (Portland-Denver at 3:30 ET on ABC, Philadelphia-Toronto at 7:00 ET on TNT) will certainly be an interesting ratings test for the networks involved.

[ESPN/Sports Media Watch]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.