Viewership for ABC’s coverage of the concluding two games of the NBA Finals was 12.6 percent lower than the corresponding games for the 2017 finals while the Golden State Warriors four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 9.66 percent less than the first four games of the 2017 finals between the two teams, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
The 2018 finals averaged 17.502 million viewers, a 14.2 percent drop from the 20.4 million average for the Warriors five-game victory over the Cavaliers in the 2017 finals, the most-watched finals since the 1998 series between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, Michael Jordan’s last finals appearance, which aired on NBC.
Viewership was 88.4 percent higher than the last time the NBA Finals ended in a sweep, when the San Antonio Spurs victory over Cleveland in 2007 averaged 9.289 million viewers.
The first four games of the 2017 finals averaged 19.374 million viewers, also the most since 1998.
The 2018 finals were the most one-sided of the nine sweeps in the NBA’s 72-season history, with Golden State outscoring the Cavaliers by 60 points. The previous record was 49 by the Milwaukee Bucks in their 1971 sweep of the Baltimore Bullets.
The Warriors 110-102 victory in Game 3 Wednesday was the most-watched program between June 4 and Sunday, averaging 17.941 million viewers, 10.4 percent less than the 20.099 million average for Game 3 of the 2017 finals, a 118-113 victory by Golden State.
The Warriors championship-clinching 108-85 victory in Game 4 Sunday was second for the week, averaging 16.242 million viewers, 14.57 percent less than the 19.013-million average for Game 4 of the 2017 finals, a 137-116 victory for Cleveland.
Official viewership figures for nearly all forms of programming are down on a year-to-year basis, in part because more people are watching the same programming on a streamed basis, which are not included in the official figures.
ABC has televised the NBA Finals each year since 2003.
ABC was the most-watched network for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.29 million viewers, its first back-to-back victories since the 2017 finals when it won three consecutive weeks.
ABC’s most-watched program outside of the NBA Finals was Sunday’s season premiere of “Celebrity Family Feud” which averaged its largest audience since July 24, 2016, 7.567 million viewers, to finish fifth overall and second among entertainment programs.
The order behind ABC was unchanged from the previous week. NBC was second, averaging 4.82 million viewers. Its most-watched program was “America’s Got Talent,” third for the week averaging 11.244 million viewers and the only program other than the two NBA Finals games to average more than 9 million viewers.
CBS was third, averaging 4.73 million viewers. Its most-watched program was “60 Minutes,” fourth for the week, averaging 8.013 million. The Tony Awards, which followed “60 Minutes,” was eighth for the week and fourth among entertainment programs, averaging 6.313 million viewers, its most since 2016.
Fox finished fourth among the major broadcast networks for the 20th consecutive week, averaging 2.12 million viewers for its 15 hours, 21 minutes of prime-time programming. Its most-watched program was the 8 p.m. Wednesday episode of “MasterChef,” which was 43rd for the week, averaging 3.262 million viewers.
Fox also trailed cable’s Fox News Channel, which averaged 2.38 million viewers. Four episodes of the news talk show “Hannity” swept the top four spots among the week’s cable programs, led by the June 4 episode, which averaged 3.32 million viewers, 43rd overall.
ABC, CBS and Fox News Channel each broadcast 22 hours of programming for ratings purposes while NBC aired 21 hours, 44 minutes.
The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Tuesday episode of the Univision drama anthology “La Rosa de Guadalupe” which averaged 1.845 million viewers to finish 68th among broadcast programming. Its overall place was not available.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 31st consecutive week, averaging 1.42 million viewers. Telemundo averaged 1.02 million viewers to finish second for the 31st consecutive week after four consecutive first-place finishes. UniMas was third, averaging 540,000 viewers, followed by Estrella TV, which averaged 250,000, and Azteca America, which averaged 90,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 28th consecutive week and 39th of past 40, averaging 7.729 million viewers.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 7.125 million viewers.
The “CBS Evening News” averaged 5.577 million viewers. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals; NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud”; NBC’s coverage of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final; CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and coverage of the Tony Awards; NBC’s “World of Dance”; and CBS’ “Young Sheldon.”
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