UPDATE: In updated national estimates from Nielsen, Game 7 of the NBA Finals averaged a 10.6 rating/32 share in adults 18-49 and 26.32 million viewers overall — behind only Game 7 of the 2010 Lakers-Celtics series as the most-watched NBA game since ABC began broadcasting basketball in 2003.
For the series, the Spurs and Heat averaged 17.7 million viewers, a 5% increase over last year (16.9 million) and the second largest audience for an NBA Finals since 2004.
ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals wrapped Thursday with huge numbers for the deciding seventh game, which produced the second best overnight rating for a pro basketball contest in 11 years.
Nielsen estimates that 17.7% of U.S. homes were watching the Miami Heat’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, a 20% jump from Game 6 on Tuesday (14.7) and a 55% spike from Game 5 last Sunday (11.4). The rating peaked 11:30 to 11:45 p.m. ET with a 22.6.
Among all games since ABC took over the NBA in 2003, only Game 7 of the 2010 series between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers rated higher in the metered markets (18.2). That game ended up averaging 28.2 million total viewers.
The Heat’s victory, securing the team’s second straight NBA Finals title, scored a record rating for the Miami market (44.2). It did a big 46.4 in San Antonio.
For the series, the 2013 NBA Finals averaged a 12.4 metered-market rating, up 5% from last year (11.8).
In general, the Spurs have not been good for NBA ratings, but ratings really picked up with the last two games of this series. Previously, series involving San Antonio had accounted for the three least-watched NBA Finals of the last dozen years.
Reliable estimates for adults 18-49 weren’t available early Friday, but the game did an 8.7 rating/26 share in adults 18-49 on ABC’s stations from 9 to 11. When the nationals come in this afternoon, the game could approach an 11 demo rating.
Elsewhere Thursday, Fox’s unscripted combo of “Hell’s Kitchen” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) and “Does Someone Have to Go?” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall) were virtually unaffected by the basketball spike. The net tied with Univision as the No. 2 broadcaster for the night in adults 18-49. The Spanish-language net was led by “Amores Verdaderos” at 9 (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall).
At NBC, “Hannibal” wrapped its first season on par with recent episodes (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall). The low-rated show, which will return to NBC next year, had the unfortunate luck of facing the NBA Finals with each of its last three episodes. Earlier, the Peacock aired encores of “Parks & Recreation” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall at 8 p.m. and 0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.7 million viewers overall at 8:30) and “The Office” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall for an hourlong episode).
CBS went with repeats of its Thursday regulars “The Big Bang Theory” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall), “Two and a Half Men” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall), “Person of Interest” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) and “Elementary” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall). “Elementary” edged out the original “Hannibal” in 18-49.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 7.1/22; Fox and Univision, 1.4/5; CBS, 1.0/3; Telemundo, 0.7/2; NBC, 0.6/2; CW, 0.3/1.
In total viewers: ABC, 17.8 million; CBS, 5.9 million; Fox, 3.7 million; Univision, 3.6 million; NBC, 1.8 million; Telemundo, 1.6 million; CW, 0.9 million.