Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 45
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NBA Playoffs Up 5% Despite Sharp Drop For Finals Sweep

The Warriors' sweep of the Cavs averaged a TAD of 17.65 million viewers on ABC and ESPN digital outlets
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Despite a 14% viewership drop for the Warriors-Cavaliers Finals, the NBA Playoffs (81 games) averaged a total audience delivery of 5.28 million viewers, up 5% from 5.05 million last postseason, when there were 78 games. There were four Game 7s this year, with two in the first round and both conference finals going the distance. Last season, there was one first round series that went to a Game 7 and one conference semifinal series with a Game 7. The Warriors' four-game sweep of the Cavs averaged a TAD of 17.65 million viewers on ABC and ESPN digital outlets. That is the lowest figure for any of the Warriors-Cavs Finals, but still above the 15.52 million viewers for the five-game Spurs-Heat series in '14 and just below the 17.67 million viewers for the seven-game Heat-Spurs series in '13. The last NBA Finals sweep -- Spurs-Cavs in '07 -- averaged 9.29 million viewers.

NBA FINALS AUDIENCE TREND ON ABC
YEAR
GAMES
VIEWERS (000)
MATCHUP
'18
4
17,648
Warriors-Cavaliers
'17
5
20,406
Warriors-Cavaliers
'16
7
20,215
Cavaliers-Warriors
'15
6
19,939
Warriors-Cavaliers
'14
5
15,524
Spurs-Heat
'13
7
17,667
Heat-Spurs
'12
5
16,855
Heat-Thunder
'11
6
17,280
Mavericks-Heat
'10
7
18,144
Lakers-Celtics
'09
5
14,347
Lakers-Magic
Download the
NBA Finals Audience Trend

RISE OF THE MACHINES: Data from measurement firm Conviva shows that there was a total of 29.7 million streams of NBA Finals games. On average, that is up 17% compared to last year. Across all four games, there were 10 million unique devices/apps streaming games -- five times higher than last year's five-game total. There also was a sharp uptick in streaming via virtual MVPD services (i.e. Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live, etc.). Those services accounted for 20% of total streams during the Finals. Meanwhile, the Cleveland-Akron market accounted for 13-21% of Internet-connected streaming homes during the '18 Finals, up from a range of 7-11% last year. The Bay Area held steady in the 17-18% range.