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Volume 25 No. 29
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Warriors-Rockets Is TNT's Best Western Conference Finals Opener

Warriors-Rockets Game 1 averaged 8.82 million viewers, the best for a conference final opener since '12
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

TNT on Monday night drew its best viewership on record for an NBA Western Conference Finals Game 1, as Warriors-Rockets averaged 8.82 million viewers. That figure also is the best for an NBA conference final opener -- West or East -- since ESPN drew 8.99 million viewers for Heat-Celtics in '12, which also aired on a Monday night. Among WCF openers, Warriors-Rockets is the best since Lakers-Kings Game 1 on NBC in '02. Warriors-Rockets also is the most-viewed NBA game on cable TV since Warriors-Thunder Game 7 in '16 on TNT. Monday night's Game 1 peaked at 10 million viewers from 10:45-11:00pm ET and was the No. 1 program in primetime for the night (cable and broadcast TV). The Bay Area (S.F.-San Jose-Oakland) led all markets for the game, drawing a 21.5 local rating. Houston was No. 2 at a 14.7 rating. Through Game 1 on Monday night, TNT continues to sees its most-viewed NBA postseason since '14.

NBA CONFERENCE FINALS: VIEWERSHIP TREND FOR GAME 1s
DATE
NET
MATCHUP
START
VIEWERS (000)
Monday, May 14, 2018
TNT
Warriors-Rockets
9:00pm
8,820
Sunday, May 13, 2018
ESPN
Cavaliers-Celtics
3:31pm
7,216
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
TNT
Cavaliers-Celtics
8:30pm
6,445
Sunday, May 14, 2017
ABC
Spurs-Warriors
3:28pm
8,129
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
ESPN
Raptors-Cavaliers
8:29pm
5,405
Monday, May 16, 2016
TNT
Thunder-Warriors
9:00pm
8,706
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
TNT
Cavaliers-Hawks
8:30pm
6,847
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
ESPN
Rockets-Warriors
9:03pm
6,848
Monday, May 19, 2014
TNT
Thunder-Spurs
9:00pm
6,363
Sunday, May 18, 2014
ABC
Heat-Pacers
3:26pm
7,815
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
TNT
Pacers-Heat
8:31pm
8,245
Sunday, May 19, 2013
ABC
Grizzlies-Spurs
3:30pm
4,854
Monday, May 28, 2012
ESPN
Celtics-Heat
8:34pm
8,989
Sunday, May 27, 2012
TNT
Thunder-Spurs
8:32pm
7,764
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NBA Conference Finals Openers

THE EASTERN FRONT: ESPN last night drew a 6.5 overnight rating for Cavaliers-Celtics, marking the highest-rated Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 since Heat-Celtics in '12, which aired on a Wednesday night. It also was ESPN's best conference finals rating since the series-clinching Warriors-Rockets Game 5 in '15 -- also on a Wednesday night. Cavs-Celtics last night is up 71% from the same matchup in ECF Game 2 last year, which aired on a Friday night. Last night's game peaked at an 8.0 overnight in the final quarter hour from 10:45-11:00pm. Cleveland-Akron led all markets with a 24.4 local rating, followed by Boston with a 16.0 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

GET TO THE POINT: In Indianapolis, Dakota Crawford writes the one-hour broadcast of the NBA Draft Lottery leading into Game 2 last night "teased results," and "everyone watching at home got really tired of waiting to see" who would hold the top 14 picks. It took "about 45 minutes before any envelopes were opened" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/16). In DC, Bontemps & Bogage write the telecast turned "what should be a 10-minute production into an hour-long snoozefest with a bunch of ridiculous promotions" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/16). USA TODAY's Andrew Joseph wrote the broadcast was "reminiscent of CBS' much-criticized NCAA tournament selection show" (USATODAY.com, 5/15). Author John Feinstein tweeted, "Has there ever been a worse, more dragged out TV show than the NBA lottery? The intros of the team reps takes forever and they put TWO commercials in even after they FINALLY start. Brutal!" CBS Sports' Will Brinson: "The next time anyone complains about the NFL dragging out coverage of an event to generate interest, please show them the NBA Draft Lottery." NFL Network's Rich Eisen: "I remember when this draft lottery happened within a single halftime." NBCSports.com's Bryan Fischer: "This somewhat shaky ESPN production isn’t exactly helping the super slow pace of the draft lottery being revealed." The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg: "The NBA Draft Lottery is definitely one of the stupidest things ESPN has turned into a fully sponsored, hour-long program" (TWITTER.com, 5/15).