NBA Finals TV Viewership Sets New Record Low for Third Straight Game

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Viewership of the NBA Finals set a new record low for television audience for the third straight game on Sunday as more fans tune out because they think the league has become too political.

Overnight ratings show game three viewership was off slightly from Friday’s count, Deadline reports:

ABC telecast of Game 3 of the NBA Finals (1.5, 4.08M) from the bubble in Orlando was off a tenth from Friday night’s Game 2 and seven tenths from Game 1 last Wednesday. Last night saw the Heat get on the board with a 115-104 victory to cut the Lakers’ lead in the series to 2-1, with Game 4 set for Tuesday.

Friday’s game two of the NBA Finals set a new low for television audience – breaking the previous low set just two days earlier by game one.

Last Wednesday, game one attracted more than a half-million fewer viewers than the previous low, which was recorded in 2003, The Hollywood Reporter notes:

The NBA Finals posted record-low TV ratings on Wednesday, consistent with steep declines throughout the postseason and with other sports whose seasons were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.


The opening game of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat brought 7.41 million viewers to ABC, the smallest audience for the finals since at least 1994, when total viewers began to be regularly recorded. The previous low was 8.06 million for Game 3 of the 2003 NBA Finals.

Friday’s game lost nearly three million viewers from Wednesday’s game one, Breitbart reports:

Game 2 cratered with just 4.5 million viewers and a dismal 1.9 in the ratings. This embarrassing showing was down 68 percent over Game 2 in 2019.

The 2020 Game 2 event now rates as the lowest ratings ever for an NBA Finals game. Until Friday, Wednesday’s Game 1 was the lowest-rated in league history. So, it seems the Finals keep going down.

In September, Forbes reported results of a Harris Poll revealing that 39% of sports fans said they are watching fewer games – and the top reason cited by those watching fewer games was that the NBA had become too political:

“A new Harris Poll backs Trump’s critique of the NBA, with 39% of sports fans saying they are watching fewer games. And the chief reason why? Politics.”

“The league has become too political” was the clear choice, with 38% of respondents who identified themselves as sports fans. “Boring without fans” captured 28% of the vote while the NBA’s association with China caused 19% of sports fans to turn the dial, another nod to a league Trump labeled a “political organization” last week after players boycotted games in response to a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

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