TV Ratings: Stephen Curry-LeBron James Battle in NBA Finals Scores for ABC

Stephen Curry LeBron James NBA Finals
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

UPDATED with final national ratings:

Thursday’s much anticipated face-off between basketball superstars Stephen Curry and LeBron James in the NBA Finals delivered record viewership for a Game 1 telecast on ABC.

This year’s opening salvo saw Curry’s Golden State Warriors best James’ Cleveland Cavaliers 104-89.

According to ABC, the game that ran from 9 p.m.-11:40 p.m. ET grabbed 19.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen live-same-day numbers. That was enough to beat ABC’s broadcast network competition combined by 2.6 million viewers. It was also the highest opening game score for an NBA Finals series since ABC began carrying the hoops championship in 2003.

The game was a big draw among young adults, averaging an 7.1 rating/30 share in adults 18-34 as well as big numbers in adults 18-49 (7.3/26) and adults 25-54 (7.6/23).

Following the game, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” also delivered its highest ratings for a Game 1 NBA finals night, drawing 4.5 million viewers and 1.2/5 in adults 18-49.

In the overnight markets, viewership peaked from 10:45 p.m.-11 p.m. ET with a 14.8 household rating.

The Cleveland market elbowed past San Francisco in terms of local tune-in. The telecast on ABC’s Cleveland affiliate WESW-TV delivered a 36 household rating, compared to a 32.8 on ABC O&O KGO-TV San Francisco. Sacramento (with a 20 household rating), Columbus, Ohio (18.9 ) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (18.8) rounded out the top 5 local markets for the game.

ABC also noted that the game set a new high-water mark for NBA game viewership on the streaming WatchESPN app with an average minute audience of 347,000.

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    The NBA FINALS have seen steady growth for several years in a row now. Off to a tremendous start thanks to this heated rivaly, you can be certain that the ratings are only going to go higher as the intensity increases. That was anyone’s game up until the last few minutes when the WARRIORS bench players went into lock down mode and only allowed the CAVALIERS one shot at the basket. And speaking of INTENSITY : 1) WARRIORS cough up their big early lead and Coach Kerr goes ballistic, breaking the chalkboard into little pieces as he and his assistants plot a new strategy. 2) Curry’s nemesis from last year’s finale, DELLADOVA, enters the game to lock down Curry again and almost starts at rumble with the WARRIORS role players. 3) Phenomenal defensive efforts all around with the difference coming from the WARRIORS unsung heroes knocking down 15 foot jumpers and splashing 3-pters without needing any assistance from THE SPLASH BROTHERS. That said, tv viewers are very aware of how potent and unstoppable the CAVALIERS can be when they are in The Zone.

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