NBA Finals Ratings Steady

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The 2012 NBA Finals matched the past two Finals for average Nielson rating at 10, despite only five games.  The 2011 Finals went six games, and the 2010 Finals last seven games.  The 10 rating means an average of 12 million households tuned into each Finals game for the past three years.  That’s roughly 17 millions viewers per game.

It seems that since 2003, this is the most sustained interest fans have shown in the NBA.  This is particularly impressive, since Oklahoma City and Miami are not the largest markets in the NBA.  It’s typically the fans of the teams in the Finals that drive these ratings.  For example, 40% of household in Oklahoma City tuned in to each game of the Finals.  33% of Miami household tuned into the Finals.  Even the jilted hometown tuned in – about 17% of Cleveland homes were watching.  Also consider that the 2010 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, the two most recognized and celebrated franchises in the NBA average 10.6 on the rating system.  This indicates that fans across the country are interested in the star-filled lineups on the Heat and Thunder.

While these ratings are the highest since 2004 when the Lakers were shocked by the Detroit Pistons and averaged 11.5 (afterwards, there were precipitous drops in ratings), it’s important to remember that Michael Jordan’s last NBA Finals drew almost twice as many households.  In fact, these past three Finals ratings are below each of the ratings drawn averages from 1982 to 2001.

The ratings indicate that the NBA is out of the viewership drought it suffered in the first decade on the new millenium.  However, with Miami and Oklahoma City poised to once again dominate their conferences next year, the question will be if there is a rematch, which viewers be drawn to the games to see if Oklahoma City beat Miami, or will they be driven away by the repeat matchup?  It’s an insanely long way to go to even get to that scenario, so I won’t conjecture here on that.  I will say, however, that the NBA is possibly more talent filled than it has ever been, despite having more teams than ever.  It’s quite possible regardless of the match up, the NBA Finals will continue to pull strong ratings next year and maybe even trend upwards.

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