NBA Finals Game 2 Viewership Down Hard From 2018; Warriors Top Raptors With Obama In The House – Update

NBA Finals Warriors Raptors
For the second game of this year's basketball championship, the Bay Area team roared past the hometown Toronto Raptors to even the series. AP

UPDATE, 10:32 AM: The series itself may now be tied, but the 2019 NBA Finals are revealing a distinct trend already and that’s a downward move.

Like the opener of this year’s quest for the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy, Game 2 of the clash between Finals newbies the Toronto Raptors and current champs the Golden State Warriors saw viewership levels sink.

Scoring an audience of 13.9 million, the June 2 match-up in the Canadian megacity dropped 25% from the Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals when the Warriors took down the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103. Similar to Game 1 of this year’s Finals, that viewership number is a 10-year low for the tournament in its second game.

Not that declines weren’t anticipated with ABC only having one U.S. market to draw from in this basketball battle, but the slippage seems harsher than anticipated in an era of overall downward turns on the small screen.

On the upward turn, coming off a Game 1 victory by hometown Raptors, the Warriors’ 109-104 Game 2 win was up 4% from the May 30 opener. While a rise, that’s a far tighter uptick than in past years for the NBA Finals.

Matching the Game 1 18-49 demographic result, the 8 – 10:53 PM ET Game 2 snagged a rating of 4.8/22. That’s a result that easily dominated the night for the Disney-owned network, which is at least one consistent with past NBA Finals.

PREVIOUSLY, JUNE 3 AM: Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Sunday was a lot like the first matchup between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, at least when it comes to the ratings. To paraphrase Martha Stewart, that’s not a good thing in what is shaping up to be the lowest-rated series in a decade.

On the court, however, things were on fire — especially for the Warriors in the second half. Although the current champions again played without the injured Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson had to exit the court due to a very painful landing, the Warriors rallied from their Game 1 defeat last week. With their defense now solid against the Canadian team and a third-quarter push that included an 18-0 run, the two-time defending champion Bay Area crew showed everyone exactly why they have all that hardware at home with a 109-104 victory in Toronto.

The NBA Finals are now tied 1-1 heading into Wednesday’s Game 3 in Oakland.

And there was a former POTUS in the house as the guest of the hometown team.

When Barack Obama was called out on the jumbotron in the arena, the 44th President was given a standing ovation and subjected to hearty chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP!”

However, for a series that came out of the gate down double digits in the ratings from last year, last night early ratings were another defeat for the league and ABC. Metered market ratings have Game 2 scoring a 10.2/19 for last night’ standoff in the 6ix.

Similar to the decade low of Game 1, that’s a stinging 20% pratfall from the early metrics of Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals. With two American markets to be measured, unlike this year, that June 2, 2018 game saw the Warriors pound LeBron James and the 2016 NBA champs the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103.

Obviously Durant, Steph Curry and team went on to win that series, and that second game drew a TV crowd of 18.5 million for the Disney-owned network. Even with 2019 final viewership figures still delayed by Nielsen, those kind of numbers are clearly not happening this time around. Right now, Game 2 looks to be hovering just below how Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals, when the Miami Heat played the series-winning San Antonio Spurs. We will see later if that remains the status quo when final results come in.

In fact, while up from Game 1 as is traditional in the NBA Finals, Game 2 of the 2019 matchup rose less than 1% from this year’s May 30 opener. That’s significantly less than in past years game-to-game.

Looking at 18-49 demographic data across the 56 markets measured, the 6.5/26 average of last night’s Game 2 declined almost 25% from last year’s comparable game.

We’ll update with more NBA Finals numbers when we get them as well as look at the results of the rest of a repeat heavy primetime. Until then, check this action out:


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