NBA Finals between Celtics and Warriors were least-watched Game 1 in 15 years


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After a slight increase in TV ratings in the regular season and playoffs, Game 1 of the NBA Finals took quite a dip.

In fact, the opener of this year’s Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors on ABC was the least-watched Game 1 in June since the San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, or there is 15 in case you need help with math.

A set photo of the Chase Center scoreboard with 2022 NBA Finals signage prior to Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors on June 1, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California .
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

As relayed by Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, Game 1 of the Celtics-Warriors series averaged just 6.3, out of 11.9 million viewers, surpassing only the previous two finals. But each of the previous two came at odd times for the league, which changed its normal schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Typically, the Finals were held in June (or late May if you go back to the early days of the NBA).

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Either way, it’s a bit of a surprise, given the rise in NBA ratings throughout the 2021-22 season. Additionally, this finale also features two of the league’s original franchises and a modern Warriors dynasty. Not to mention the presence of longtime MVP candidate Steph Curry.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes the ball past Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Basketball Finals in San Francisco on Thursday 2 June 2022.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) passes the ball past Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Basketball Finals in San Francisco on Thursday 2 June 2022.
(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

It was also a thrilling game, with the underdog Celtics rallying for a 120-108 road victory to clinch home-court advantage for the series.

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Apparently none of that helped.

“Awaiting any potential away comeback, the Celtics’ win was down 19% in viewership and 11% in viewership in the Warriors-Raptors opener of 2019, with the previous final set to take place in June ( 7.9, 13.38 million),” he added. Lewis wrote. “It currently ranks as the lowest-rated and least-watched Finals game involving Curry (29 telecasts), falling below Game 4 of the 2019 series (7.6, 12.79 million).”

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum #0 dribbles the ball during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 2, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum #0 dribbles the ball during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 2, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Again, the league saw an increase in ratings throughout the season, especially the playoffs. But even then, as Lewis noted, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Take a look at the facts about the Celtics’ win over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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“…As strong as NBA numbers have been at times these playoffs, there have been signs in recent weeks that the league’s momentum has slowed,” Lewis wrote. “Even last Sunday’s Celtics-Heat Game 7 was a disappointing draw by historic standards, its mere 4.6 rating easily the lowest for a Conference Final Game 7 in the last 25 years. away made the audience more respectable – almost 10 million – but even that was the smallest attendance for a Conference Final 7 game since 2005.”

Bottom line: While the NBA has seen a slight uptick in ratings overall, there is clearly more to be done, and at a time of year when games are typically the most watched.


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