The 2015 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been a done deal after Game 1 due to the Cavs’ heavy injuries, but it still managed to generate enough interest to be the most viewed NBA Finals since the Jordan era.
On average, about 20 million people tuned in on ABC to watch each game of series, with this being the highest rating the NBA Finals have achieved since 1998’s Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz, when 29 million viewers watched Michael Jordan’s last final. This was also the most viewed series since the NBA Finals started broadcasting on ABC in 2003.
Tuesday’s game, which brought the Warriors their first title in 40 years after a 105-97 win in Cleveland, was watched with 23.2 million Americans, making it the most watched Game 6 of any sports on ABC. The only ABC NBA Finals game with a higher audience was 2013’s dramatic San Antonio Spurs against the Miami Heat’s game 7, which was narrowly won by the Heat to bring LeBron James’ second title.
Previously, the most watched NBA Finals series on average in the post-Jordan era was the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers versus Philadelphia 76ers, when almost 19 million people on averaged tuned in to see the Lakers’ 4-1 win in Allen Iverson’s only NBA Finals appearance.
The NBA has struggled over the years to return to the massive audiences of the Bulls-dominated 90s, and despite getting closer this year it still faces an uphill challenge to replicate that amount of interest. The high ratings numbers this might be attributed to the fact that both teams represented special cases generating high amounts of interest. The Golden State Warriors managed to qualify for the play-offs only for the fourth time in the last 22 years, with this being its first Finals appearance and NBA title in 40 years.
On the other side, the Cleveland Cavaliers were seeking to end the city’s championship drought in main sports which is already lasting for half a century, since the 1964 triumph of the Cleveland Browns in NFL pre-Super Bowl championship. The Cavs were also considered to be severe underdogs especially after game 1, with superstars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving out for the series with long-term injuries. However, impressive performances by LeBron James and an overly-tired seven man rotation led to Cleveland holding an initial 2-1 lead in the series, generating more interest as a Cinderella story.
The Golden State Warriors have won the 2015 NBA Finals after a 4-2 series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with their Andre Iguodala becoming the first player in NBA history to receive the Finals MVP award without starting a single match during the regular season – Iguodala’s first start came only in the final’s fourth game.
Image Source: Breitbart