UPDATED with final numbers: The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals drew 13.305 million viewers, the second-largest total for an NBA game in ESPN history. The 9.1 metered market rating for the game matched a network record.
The Cavs’ 87-79 victory thanks to LeBron James’ primetime performance with 35 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists peaked at 17.463M viewers from 10:30-11 PM ET, the largest peak audience ever for an NBA game on ESPN, according to Nielsen. Once all streaming and out-of-home viewership is included, Game 7 is expected to be the most-watched NBA game ever on ESPN.
Based on Nielsen fast-nationals, Sunday’s Game 7 — the most-watched game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs — will win the night across all of TV
The 19 playoff games ESPN aired this postseason averaged 5.101M viewers, up 30% from 2017. The Eastern Conference Finals drew 8,449M average viewers, up 34% from last year’s Cleveland-Boston ECF matchup and 29% from the 2017 Western Conference Finals (Warriors-San Antonio) on ESPN.
TNT is airing the NBA’s other Game 7 tonight at 9 ET when the defending champion Golden State Warriors play the Houston Rockets on the road in the Western Conference Finals. The winner plays the Cavs in the best-of-7 NBA Finals that begin Thursday on ABC.