Fans of the Golden State Warriors may be feeling intense frustration right now, but ABC is surely celebrating tonight after LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers handed the Warriors a solid 115-101 defeat, sending the 2016 NBA finals to game 7 for the first time since 2013, and only the fourth time since 2005.
The 2016 finals have been a ratings goldmine for ABC so far, already tracking as the second most-watched NBA finals since the network began airing them in 2003. Further, June 13th’s game five scored 20.5 million viewers total viewers, on par with game five of the best-ever rated 2015 NBA finals, and had a long tail for ABC with Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night grabbing its biggest audience ever for a Game Night 5 with 4.6M.
Those very ratings were at the center of a minor controversy tonight, when the Warriors’ Steph Curry was ejected from the game in its final moments after his 6th foul. Curry’s wife Ayesha lashed out at the punishment on Twitter, saying “I’ve lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money… Or ratings in not sure which. I won’t be silent. Just saw it live sry”. She later deleted the tweet and apologized, explaining that it was a heat of the moment reaction to a call she considered uncalled for, and that her emotions were high because she and her family had difficulty getting into the game, held in Cleveland, and her father was reportedly nearly arrested.
Given the drama of the series – it’s the second Warriors vs Cavaliers NBA finals match up in a row – similar ratings can likely be expected for tonight’s game and for the June 19 finale. Deadline will have the ratings on tonight’s game early in the AM.