UPDATE: In final national estimates from Nielsen, the NBA Finals on Tuesday averaged an 8.9 rating/29 share in adults 18-49 and 23.25 million viewers overall, the second largest audience for a Game 6 since ABC began airing the Finals in 2003 (behind only 23.88 million for Dallas-Miami in 2011). For the entire series, the NBA Finals had their best 18-49 average (7.6) since 2004 and its largest total-viewer count (19.94 million) in 17 years (Chicago-Utah on NBC).
Also for ABC, “Jimmy Kimmel Live Game Night” on Tuesday produced the special’s largest overall audience since it premiered in 2008 (4.7 million) and matched its high in adults 18-49 rating (1.4). On average, the six “Game Night” telecasts this year averaged a 1.2 rating in adults 18-49 and 3.9 million total viewers — up nearly 10% in both for the special’s best-ever scores.
It didn’t get the Game 7 it was hoping for, but ABC’s coverage of the Golden State Warriors’ series-clinching victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday generated the highest overnight rating yet for the 2015 NBA Finals, making the network an easy winner for the night and capping its top-rated Finals since it began airing the event in 2003.
When final total-viewer numbers are released later today, it’s expected that this year’s pro basketball championship round will have averaged in the vicinity of 20 million viewers — the most for any NBA Finals in the 17 years since Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to victory over the Utah Jazz on NBC. The largest-ever average for a Finals on ABC was the 18.1 million for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in a 2010 series that went the full seven games.
In the adults 18-49 demo, this year’s Finals will finish with about a 7.6 rating average, which would be the highest since 2004 on ABC (7.9 for Pistons-Lakers).
In the Nielsen overnight ratings, this year’s 13.9 average is up a big 31% over last year’s 10.6 (Miami-San Antonio), and Tuesday’s game averaged a 15.9 to eclipse the 14.2 for Game 5 as the top-rated of this year’s NBA Finals. The 15.9 is up 8% from the most recent Game 6, in 2013 between Miami and San Antonio (14.7). The game netted a 40.7 rating in the Oakland/San Francisco market — whose Warriors won their first NBA title in 40 years — and a 42.0 in Cleveland.
Last night’s game also saw 939,000 unique viewers on WatchESPN, which is the most ever for an NBA game on the platform. The average audience of 292,000 also stands as a record.
According to Facebook, 9.4 million people had 27 million interactions about Game 6 on Tuesday, 2 million more people and about 8 million more interactions than any other game of the Finals. LeBron James generated more than twice the conversation of any other player, and was followed in order of popularity by Stephen Curry, Matthew Dellavedova, Kyrie Irving and Andre Iguodala.
Globally, about 32 million people had 173 million Facebook interactions during the course of the 2015 NBA Finals.
Elsewhere in primetime Tuesday, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” held up well (2.2/8 in 18-49, 10.0 million viewers overall), about on par with last week and easily the night’s top-rated entertainment series. It was followed by “I Can Do That” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall), which fell 0.3 from last week.
Fox did solid numbers for its FIFA Women’s World Cup game between USA and Nigeria (1.7/6 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall), with these numbers likely to be adjusted slightly in the nationals.
CBS aired repeats of “NCIS” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall) and “NCIS: New Orleans” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall), followed by newsmagazine “48 Hours” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall). And CW ran repeats of “The Flash” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.1 million viewers overall) and “iZombie” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.9 million viewers overall).
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 6.2/20; NBC, 1.9/6; Fox, 1.7/6; Univision, 0.8/3; CBS, 0.7/2; Telemundo, 0.5/2; CW, 0.3/1.
In total viewers: ABC, 16.5 million; NBC, 8.2 million; CBS, 6.1 million; Fox, 4.6 million; Univision, 2.2 million; Telemundo, 1.2 million; CW, 1.0 million.