Earlier Thursday afternoon, the basketball world learned the ratings for Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.
According to ESPN’s Shakeemah Simmons-Winter, viewership on ABC’s broadcast of the game was 13-percent higher than last year. The broadcast drew over 8.56 million viewers, with a peak of 10 million from 11:15 to 11:30 p.m. ET.
Some fans predicted the viewership might not be as high due to two “small market” teams in the Finals. That wasn’t really the case as Game 1 saw plenty of eye balls on Tuesday night.
Here was some of the fan reaction to learning this year’s NBA Finals – at least for the first game – saw an improvement over last year.
NBA Finals Game 1 viewership up 13% compared to Game 1 last season. No ratings expert here, but league and network are pleased given the changing viewing habits/options. And ABC “won the night,” in key demographics.
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 8, 2021
It’s funny how people were saying nobody was gonna wanna watch the NBA finals this year and the ratings are actually up over 10%
Quality basketball wins every time
— Rob / ecstatic Houston sports fan (@Houst0n4L) July 8, 2021
Of course, there were plenty of critics as well, who made it well-known the ratings were down from 2019. One fan pointed out the steep drop off from 2019 and noted that a familiar face is missing: Stephen Curry.
NBA Finals Game 1 ratings:
2021 – 8.5 million viewers
2020 – 7.4 million viewers
2019 – 13.3 million viewers
This proves two things:
1. No one cared about the bubble
2. The Finals needs Steph Curry
— Guru (@DrGuru_) July 8, 2021
Fans might say they don’t like when one team continues to win championships. However, the Golden State Warriors were the NBA’s dream when it came to ratings.
Without Curry on the court, ratings don’t appear to be doing as well.
We’ll have to wait and see what the second game brings. Game 2 of the NBA Finals will be played at 9:00 p.m. EST and will air on ABC.