NBA Finals Game 1 Was Least-Watched Finals Opener Since 2007 (Not Ranking Covid Years)


The NBA Finals Game 1 between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks has sparked a mix of concern and intrigue among basketball enthusiasts and media analysts alike. The series opener, which saw the Celtics secure an 18-point victory over the Mavericks, posted a viewership number that has not been seen since the COVID-19 pandemic affected seasons.

According to Sports Media Watch, the game averaged a 5.7 rating with 10.99 million viewers on ABC. This figure is notably the lowest for an NBA Finals Game 1 since 2007, barring the years 2020 and 2021, which were significantly impacted by the global pandemic. The drop in viewership is a talking point that reflects a broader trend in live sports broadcasting, where traditional TV ratings have been facing a steady decline.

Despite the lower overall numbers, the NBA Finals Game 1 has achieved a significant milestone in terms of audience share. The game delivered the largest Game 1 audience share ever on ABC, capturing 20.3% of viewers, including nearly half of the 18-34 demographic. This demographic is particularly coveted by advertisers and broadcasters for its purchasing power and engagement with digital platforms.

The contrasting figures present a complex narrative. On one hand, the absolute number of viewers tuning in is less than ideal for the league, which has been looking to rebound from the viewership lows of the pandemic years. On the other hand, the high audience share indicates that those who are watching are highly engaged, and the NBA remains a dominant force in the sports entertainment industry.

As the NBA continues to navigate the evolving landscape of media consumption, the league’s adaptability and innovative approaches to broadcasting and fan engagement will be crucial. The shift towards digital streaming platforms and the integration of interactive and personalized viewing experiences are potential strategies that could help the NBA tap into new audiences and revitalize its viewership numbers.

The upcoming games in the series will be a litmus test for the league’s ability to maintain and grow its audience. With Game 2 scheduled for June 9 at TD Garden in Boston, the NBA will be hoping for a viewership rebound as the Finals progress.

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