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NBA Finals 2023 Viewership Down 3.76 Million From 2022 Opener

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The 2023 NBA Finals opener between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets drew a 2.21 rating in Game 1 for the 18-49 age range demographic. About 7.64 million viewers watched the series opener, whereas approximately 11.4 million viewers watched Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.

Game 1 of last year’s finals peaked at 11.4 million, and an average of 8.13 million tuned in to watch. Out of the six NBA Finals appearances for Golden State since 2015, it was the least watched. Also, last year’s finals were the least watched out of all series played in June since 2007. Are streaming services part of the problem?

Are the Nuggets not as interesting to watch? This is Denver’s first NBA Finals appearance in its franchise history. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weighed in on the issue. “We have an opportunity now to redesign how fans can receive games,” Silver said.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Nuggets are the favorites to win the 2023 NBA Finals. Check out which sportsbooks are giving Nikola Jokic the best odds to win Finals MVP.

“It’s clear to me that, where I’m saying it’s on us, the last thing we want to do is disenfranchise fans,” Silver continued. “Not that it should be any different, but particularly when you have a finals-caliber team, and we know that there’s intense interest in seeing these games.

“I’m very sympathetic to fans and I get a lot of emails and I’ve seen on social media and just comments while I’m here in town of people saying, ‘This makes absolutely no sense that I can’t watch games.’ I think we have to own this issue.”

Of course, fuboTV is one popular streaming service that does not carry TNT. Even then, the NBA Finals is being televised through ABC and ESPN2.

2023 NBA Finals series opener averaged 7.64 million viewers, down from 11.4 million viewers for Game 1 of last year’s Warriors-Celtics series

Compared to the 2021 NBA Finals series opener, last year’s finals exceeded expectations. Plus, Game 6 averaged 7.5 million views, and Golden State’s series-ending finish peaked at almost 14 million. An NBA Finals game has not garnered at least 20 million views since 2017.

Seven years ago, LeBron James and Stephen Curry had the two highest-selling jerseys. Fast forward to 2023, nothing has changed. James and Curry remain the two most-popular players in the NBA today. The ratings and merchandise sales prove it. This is the first finals without James or Curry since 2021.

An average of 20.38 million viewers watched the 2017 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Game 5 was the most-viewed finals game this century, with 24.47 million viewers tuning in.

The 1998 NBA Finals between the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls tops the most-watched list. An average of 29.04 million fans watched this finals series, making it the most-watched playoff series in NBA history. Chicago’s 87-86 Game 6 win over the Jazz generated an NBA-record 35.89 million viewers.

Additionally, the Nuggets-Lakers matchup for this past Western Conference Finals series averaged 7.9 million viewers across ESPN and ABC, making it the most-watched conference finals series since 2018.

It was a 13% increase over last year’s seven-game ECF series between the Celtics and Miami Heat. Game 4 of the Nuggets-Lakers series averaged 8.209 million viewers on ESPN.

Furthermore, last month’s Lakers-Warriors conference semifinals series averaged 7.8 million viewers across ABC, ESPN, and TNT, making it the most-watched conference semifinals series in 27 years. Game 1 averaged 7.4 million viewers. It was the most-watched Game 1 of the conference semifinals in cable television history.

Game 3 averaged 8.3 million viewers and peaked at 9.7 million. It was the most-watched Game 3 of a conference semifinals series since 1999. Game 4 drew 7.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched conference semifinals Game 4 on any network since 2012.


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