NBA Finals score highest ratings in nineteen years

The Golden State Warriors win their second NBA title in three years. (Getty Images)

Third straight Warriors-Cavs matchup sends viewers through the entrances

Despite a few games in boring blowout territory, the 2017 NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers drew the highest ratings for a NBA Finals matchup in nineteen years.

According to Nielsen, the series drew  20.4 million viewers – the most on average since 1998 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their sixth NBA title against the Utah Jazz in a series averaging 29 million viewers. In the adult 18-49 demo, the series averaged a 7.1.

The game five clincher for the Golden State Warriors drew 24.5 million viewers and a 9.0 rating in adults 18-49, The numbers however, were far below the 40 million and the 12.6 demo rating the Chicago Cubs had with their game-clinching, history-making game seven World Series win against the Cleveland Indians last November. In overnights, gave five drew a 16.0 household rating – easily making the game the most watched program of the evening.

In Golden State home market San Francisco, also containing Oakland and San Jose, the clincher drew a 39.6 household rating on ABC-owned KGO-TV, down slightly from their 2015 game six clincher (40.7). In Cleveland, ABC affiliate WEWS earned a 37.1 rating for game five.

LeBron James of the Cavs dribbles against his opponent.

The Warriors, who won their first NBA title in forty years back in 2015, defeated LeBron James-led Cleveland for the honor. In 2016 however, Cleveland turned the tables and beat Golden State for the city’s first major sports title in 52 years. Embarrassed, Golden State didn’t rebuild – they reloaded by acquiring Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City, adding to a team already stocked with superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – and successfully avenged their Finals loss last year to Cleveland. It marked the first time in NBA history two teams met in the Finals three times straight.

Among local markets for the entire NBA Finals, Cleveland (WEWS) led with a 34.7, followed by KGO-TV’s 33.3. Nearby Sacramento (KXTV) ranked seventh while Los Angeles’ KABC-TV came in tenth. Both KABC and KGO are owned by ABC.

In years past, Chicago generally made the ten-most watched NBA Final markets, but did not make it this time around. Similar to what happened with the Blackhawks and the NHL locally, Chicago viewers simply tuned out after the Bulls were eliminated in the first round by Boston (then again, many viewers didn’t tune in to begin with.) Ratings for regular-season Bulls games hit a ten-year low this season.

Among the ten least watched markets came some surprises – Knoxville’s (WATE) 9.0 average was actually lower than the game six number the Stanley Cup Final drew, featuring the nearby Nashville Predators. The lower rated market? Pittsburgh (WTAE – not to be confused with the Knoxville ABC affiliate), who was too busy partying with the Penguins to notice.

With many predicting the Golden State Warriors running the table again for the next few years, we may have a dynasty in the making. In other words, if you’re a Bulls fan looking to make a deposit on season tickets for next year…put your money to better use.