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NBA Finals Ratings Fail To Return To Pre-COVID-19 Highs

D
espite the broadcast ratings for this year’s NBA Finals surpassing those of 2020, the series did not achieve ratings close to its pre-COVID-19 success.

The 2021 NBA Finals featuring the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns averaged 9.91 million viewers on ABC in the US for the six-game series.

This is up 32% from the 2020 NBA Finals, where an average of 7.5 million people tuned in to watch the Los Angeles Lakers against the Miami Heat.

Compared to the 20.3 million people on average that watched in 2016, 20.4 million in 2017 and 17.6 million in 2018, the increase between 2020 and 2021 is minor.

Game 6 of the 2021 Finals was the most viewed night, peaking at a season high of 16.4 million viewers between 11.30 pm EST and 11:44 pm EST, resulting in the most-watched game since 2019.

The Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) has suggested the absence of superstars Lebron James and Stephen Curry in this year’s finals, which was the first time in a Finals series in 10 years, contributed to a loss in ratings.

The 2018 NBA Finals that featured LeBron James and Steph Curry averaged 17.6 million viewers in four games, while the 2017 Finals, which also featured both stars, was the highest viewed series to date with 20.4 million average viewers.

However, data has shown ratings are down in most US sports, including the NFL’s Super Bowl dropping to its lowest audience since 2007 of 96.4 million viewers between CBS and streaming services.