NBA First Round Ends Down, But Conference Semis Start Strong
Television viewership for the first round of the NBA Playoffs was at the lowest level in at least a decade as the league dealt with strong headwinds, including the absence of LeBron James and head-to-head competition from The Masters (first time in over a decade), record NFL Draft numbers and a highly-rated final season of “Game of Thrones.” For 41 first-round games across ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV (only one Game 7), the NBA averaged 2.65 million viewers, down 18% from 3.24 million last year (44 games, including two Game 7s). Six of the eight first-round series this year finished in five games or less. On TNT alone, 16 of the net’s 23 games had lopsided scores (decided by 10 points or more). NBA games during the first round did win the night among adults 18-34 on 12 of 15 occasions. The three nights the NBA did not win were against “Game of Thrones” (twice) and the Draft. But the league has had a better start for the Conference Semifinal round. Sunday’s Rockets-Warriors Game 1 on ABC delivered 7.3 million viewers, which is the best first- or second-round game since the deciding Thunder-Lakers Game 5 in ‘12 drew 8.15 million viewers on TNT.