The NBA Finals Game 7 lived up to the hype, and it was clearly a game lots of folks wanted to see.
The game drew an 18.9 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated sports telecast on ABC since 2006. The overnight rating peaked at 25.5 from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m., coming during the final stretch of the fourth quarter. The game also was the most-watched NBA game in ABC history with a record 30.8 million viewers tuning in. The viewership peaked at 44.5 million viewers from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m.
ABC began broadcasting the NBA Finals in 2003. Before then, the NBA Finals were broadcast on NBC from 1991 to 2002 and CBS from 1974 to 1990.
Game 7 broke streaming records on the WatchESPN app as well, becoming the most-watched NBA game ever on the service. Online viewers logged 96.2 million total minutes streamed for 1.8 million unique viewers. Those numbers mark the most for a non-World Cup event.
The viewership may have broken ABC’s records, but it wasn’t close to breaking the all-time record for NBA Finals ratings.
The highest-rated NBA Finals telecast came during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan’s final game, in which he captured a sixth NBA title, drew a 22.3 rating.
Only 13 games in the history of the NBA Finals have drawn over a 18.8 rating.
1998: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz Game 6: 22.3 rating (NBC)
1988: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons Game 7: 21.8 rating (CBS)
1993: Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns Game 6: 20.3 rating (NBC)
1997: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz Game 5: 20.1 rating (NBC)
1998: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz Game 5: 19.8 rating (NBC)
1993: Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns Game 4: 19.8 rating (NBC)
1991: Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 5: 19.7 rating (NBC)
1984: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Game 7: 19.3 rating (CBS)
1998: Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz Game 4: 19.1 rating (NBC)
1993: Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns Game 5: 19.0 rating (NBC)
2016: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors Game 7: 18.9 rating (ABC)
1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics: Game 4: 18.9 rating (CBS)
1987: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics: Game 5: 18.9 rating (CBS)