Team's dominance over Spurs in West kills drama

HOLLYWOOD — The L.A. Lakers have crushed their opposition during their record-setting push toward an NBA title repeat, and they’ve put a major hit on the Peacock’s ratings, too.

After inching toward ratings respectability in recent weeks, NBC’s coverage of pro basketball’s playoffs took a step backward with the Memorial Day holiday weekend’s quartet of games.

According to metered-market overnight household ratings from Nielsen, the Peacock net’s coverage of NBA conference finals action on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday averaged a 6.3 rating/13 share — a 16% decline in rating vs. the same days last year (7.5/16) and a 15% dropoff from two years ago (7.4/15).

A lack of drama in the Western finals, thanks to the record-setting dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers, is a big reason for the decline. The defending champs swept the San Antonio Spurs in four games, none of which was close.

Friday’s Lakers-Spurs game (9:15-11:45 p.m. EDT) was the highest rated of the weekend, netting a 7.2/13 in overnights on NBC and a whopping 19.5/35 in Los Angeles. Sunday’s series ender (5:30-8 p.m. EDT) averaged a 6.3/14 in overnights and an 18.3/41 in Los Angeles.

Monday’s fourth game in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers averaged a 6.6/13 in overnights, better than Saturday’s 5.3/12.

Prior to the conference finals, NBC was averaging a 4.5 rating/12 share nationally for its 23 telecasts, a 6% decline from last season’s 4.8/13; the year-to-year dropoffs had been as high as 20% earlier in the postseason.

But since last season’s playoff averages included a highly rated seventh game in the West (with the Lakers beating Portland), this year’s ratings figure to fall farther behind last year’s pace as the playoffs conclude.

With the Bucks-76ers series now tied at two games apiece, NBC is guaranteed at least six games in the East. The NBA Finals, to match the Lakers against the Eastern Conference champ, begin Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Fox likely took a bite out of NBC’s basketball numbers on Sunday with a solid score for its telecast of NASCAR’s Coca Cola 300. Race grabbed a 4.9/13 overnight national rating from 5:45-10:15 p.m. EDT (which likely will improve in nationals), providing Fox with demo victories in primetime.

NBC, meanwhile, received strong ratings for Sunday’s two-hour National Geographic spec on Pearl Harbor. It was the night’s top-rated program according to prelim Nielsen nationals, averaging roughly 12.6 million viewers and a 4.5/14 in adults 18-49.

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