The Boston Celtics-Miami Heat series going seven games despite Miami’s early 3-0 series lead wound up being a huge win for Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT on multiple fronts. In addition to giving them three more games than the minimum four it looked like the series might initially last, the later games pulled in terrific ratings. And that was particularly true for Monday’s Game 7, which pulled in an average of 11.9 million viewers despite the Heat’s lopsided 1o3-84 victory:
TNT delivers its most-watched NBA Eastern Conference Finals game ever
Heat/Celtics, Game 7, averages 11.9 million viewers, +21% vs. last year's same matchup; third-most watched NBA telecast ever on TNT
Most watched ECF series on TNT in a decadehttps://t.co/YsHfuYcIP8
— Warner Bros. Discovery Sports U.S. PR (@WBDSportsPR) May 31, 2023
As noted there, the Game 7 broadcast (which peaked with 14.2 million viewers) was TNT’s most-watched Eastern Conference Finals game ever, passing Game 7 of the Heat’s series with the Indiana Pacers in 2013 (11.6 million viewers). That’s impressive considering the growing spread of cord-cutting in that time. We don’t have exact numbers for TNT distribution in 2013, but TBS had a Nielsen-estimated 99.2 million homes then, and the TNT and TBS numbers have usually been similar (they had an estimated 91.4 and 92.8 million subscribers respectively in June 2016). By comparison, this April’s estimates had TNT with 74.0 million homes. So they pulled off a better rating than 2013 despite having only around three-quarters of the homes they did at that time.
This also adds to what was a very successful series and overall playoffs for TNT’s NBA coverage. That release mentions that the overall series averaged 7.4 million viewers, making it TNT’s most-watched ECF in a decade (see also Heat-Pacers in 2013), and that it rose six percent from the same Heat-Celtics matchup last year (which also went seven games). A lot of that was about the series’ concluding games, as Game 6 Saturday averaged 8.7 million viewers (TNT’s most-viewed Game 6 ever, and the most-viewed Game 6 on any network in 11 years).
And TNT’s overall playoff coverage also did quite well, averaging 4.7 million viewers (a 14 percent year-over-year rise, and their most-watched overall coverage in five years). This adds to the success ESPN/ABC reported last week, with their most-watched playoffs in 11 years. So it’s a good time ratings-wise for the NBA; we’ll see if that holds up for the Finals (featuring the Heat and the Denver Nuggets), which begin Thursday night on ABC.
[WBD; photo of the Heat celebration Monday from Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports]