NBA Finals Opener Hits 10-Year Low, Hurt Without Toronto Market
ABC drew a 10.1 overnight rating for the Raptors' 118-109 win over the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, down 18% from a 12.3 for the Warriors-Cavaliers opener last year, which went to overtime. Canadian figures are not included in Thursday's figures, as the Toronto market is not Nielsen-rated. Two years ago, Warriors-Cavs Game 1 drew a 12.4, while the '16 Cavs-Warriors matchup drew a 13.1 overnight. Thursday night's game marks the lowest NBA Finals Game 1 since Lakers-Magic drew an 8.9 overnight in '09. Thursday's rating still would eclipse the 8.0 for the Spurs-Cavaliers opener in '07 or the 9.3 for Heat-Mavericks in '06 (9.3). S.F.-Oakland-San Jose led all markets for Thursday with a 26.4 rating, but it was the lowest for Game 1 there for the five times the Warriors have been in the Finals. Last year drew a 31.1, '17 drew a 30.9, '16 a 32.8 and '15 a 28.9. Thursday's game, which peaked at an 11.0 rating from 11:30-11:45pm ET, marks the 65th straight time that the NBA Finals has won the night across all TV (Josh Carpenter, THE DAILY). The Athletic's Richard Deitsch notes it was "no surprise" the Game 1 final would be down, as the series "needs length to overcome the Toronto market not rated by Nielsen and the absence of LeBron" (TWITTER.com, 5/31). CNBC's Eric Chemi prior to Game 1 said, "If and when these ratings are lower, they've got an easy scapegoat" ("The Exchange," CNBC, 5/30).
HOMETOWN TEAM? In Buffalo, Alan Pergament notes the Raptors' "proximity to Western New York" led to a rise in viewership on WKBW-ABC compared to last year's Game 1. The 8.4 local rating that Warriors-Raptors Game 1 drew was up nearly 10% from Warriors-Cavs Game 1 in '18. The ratings also tied the 8.4 local rating for Game 1 of the Blues-Bruins Stanley Cup Final Game 1 on Monday. The battle over whether basketball or hockey is more popular in the region "ended up in a split decision last year," but it "should be more interesting this year with the Raptors playing less than 100 miles away" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 5/31).
SUPER TEAM: SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote the run that ESPN's Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson have had calling the NBA Finals "has gone a bit unnoticed." Last night marked the 11th Finals that the trio has called for ABC/ESPN. This year will be Van Gundy's 13th Finals as an analyst, and Breen's 14th as a play-by-play man. When it "comes to analysts, you have to go back to the days of Bill Russell and Rick Barry" in the '70s and '80s to "find any who have worked more than four NBA Finals." When early June "rolls around, we know we're getting Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson in our living rooms for several nights and there is something refreshing about that familiarity" (SI.com, 5/30).