NBA Finals Game 1 Hits Viewership High For ABC With 17.8M Watching

UPDATE, 2:08 PM: The final score is in and it is a clear win for ABC with last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The 9 – 11:57 PM ET battle between the overtime winning Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers drew a 6.9/25 rating among adults 18-49 and bringing in 17.8 million total viewers. That’s up 15% in the key demo from the 2014 Game 1 of June 5 last year and a 19% rise in viewership. That total viewership dunk makes last night’s b-ball match-up the most watched Game 1 ever on ABC since the net started carry the game back in 2003. In the key demo, the 6.9 rating is even with the 2012 Game 1 result for the second best result ABC has ever had. The 18-49 record holder remains the 7.0 rating that Game 1 of the 2004 NBA Finals got. The Detroit Pistons beat the L.A. Lakers 87-75 in that June 6 game 11 years ago and went on to win the series.

PREVIOUS, 8:02 AM: In a thrilling and sometimes nail-biting Game 1 of the NBA Finals last night, the Golden State Warriors opened the series with a 108-100 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The match-up at Oakland’s Oracle Arena was also a big win for ABC with the best Game 1 result the network has had since it started showing the NBA Finals over a decade ago. With a 12.9 result in meter-market ratings, last night’s Game 1 was also up a commanding 24% over the 2014 Game 1 between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs on June 5 last year. The Spurs, who went on to win the series last year, took Game 1 110-95. The previous MM ratings Game 1 high for ABC was the 11.8 that the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder drew in 2012.

Last year’s Game 1 went on to draw 14.9 million viewers and a 6.0/20 rating among adults 18-49, both a 5% rise from 2103. So we’ll see what last night’s Game 1 brings us later and how many tuned in to watch LeBron James score those 44 points he put in the basket on Thursday. In the meantime, the 2015 Game 1 peaked with a 15.6 metered market rating between 11:30 – 11:45 PM ET as things came down to a win or die status for both teams as they sought the advantage of that first game victory. There were certainly big wins in the local metered-market results for both teams from their hometowns. Cleveland had the highest local MM result with a 41.4, while San Francisco was second with a 28.9 rating, backing its Bay Area team.

The NBA Finals stays in Oakland for Game 2 on Sunday before moving East to Cleveland for Game 3 on Tuesday.

We’ll update with more ratings like the Season 3 debut of Hannibal later

UPDATE 9:04 AM: The Golden State Warriors may be considered the favorites in this year’s NBA Finals but if last night’s Game 1 ratings results are any indication, it looks like ABC will be the winner whether the Bay Area team takes the series or the Cleveland Cavaliers. In early numbers, the first game of the 2015 series pulled in a 5.6/19 among adults 18-49 with 14.37 million watching. That’s up 10% in the key demo from what the June 5 Game 1 of the 2014 series got. Last night’s fast nationals viewership was up 14% from last year The 2014 Game 1 battle between the winning San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat eventually rose to a 6.0/20 rating and 14.85 million viewers. As is always the case with live sports, expect adjustments later today in the Game 1 numbers.

Preceding the game itself, both Jimmy Kimmel Live Game Night (2.7/11) and Countdown To Game 1 (3.6/13) were up 29% from their fast national results of last year. Both Kimmel and the Countdown were adjusted down to a respective 1.1/5 and a 2.0/8. Basketball wasn’t the only thing on primetime on Thursday but ABC’s 4.8/17 overall rating and 12.5 million total viewers were clear and easy victories for the night.

NBC liberated Hannibal (0.7/2) this year from the often wasteland of Friday nights for its third season but debuting against the first game of the NBA Finals obviously didn’t do the show any favors. The 10 PM stylish and succulent show was down 36% from its Season 2 premiere at the same time on February 28 last year to hit a series low in preliminary numbers. However, compared to its S2 finale of May 25, 2014, last night S3 debut was down just 12%. It’s worth noting that the Bryan Fuller developed series about the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter generally has a healthy DVR afterlife with strong double digit rises. At 9 PM, freshman sixties-set Aquarius (0.7/2) was also down 36% in the demo, in the case from its debut of last week. Dateline (1.1/4) kicked off NBC’s prime, with a 8% slip from last week.

Fox’s Bones (1.1/5) and Wayward Pines (1.1/4) were both down a tenth from their May 28 shows. CBS and The CW were all encores.

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