Despite lacking a national draw like the Lakers, TNT scored strong ratings for its coverage of the NBA Western Conference Finals, which wrapped Wednesday.
The sixth and final game in the best-of-seven series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs averaged 9.5 million viewers for the cabler, Nielsen estimates. And for the whole series, TNT averaged 7.82 million viewers — up 13% from last year’s Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and Dallas Mavericks on ESPN.
TNT was the top-rated network on television among adults 18-49 on five of the six nights it aired WCF games, including Wednesday when the Thunder advanced to the NBA Finals by eliminating the Spurs with a 107-99 victory. In the key demo, it did a 4.1 rating/13 share.
The ratings are especially impressive given that the home markets rank 36th (San Antonio) and 44th (Oklahoma City) in size.
Overall, TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs delivered the second largest audience (4.82 million) in its 28-year history with the league.
This year’s Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN between the larger-market Boston Celtics and Miami Heat has been an even stronger ratings draw than the WCF. Three of the first five games drew more than 10 million viewers, and a series-high audience was expected for Thursday’s Game 6, a possible elimination game for the Heat.