It’s been true since day 1 of the season, and it’s still true through the Finals: a lot of people are tuning in to watch the Heat play basketball.
According to a press release distributed by ESPN and ABC, the Finals are averaging 15.3 million viewers through three games, which is the highest average number of viewers per game since Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton fell to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Finals.
Considering that most of America still does not know who Dirk Nowitzki is, most of the credit for these huge ratings has to go to the Heat, who have been attracting eyeballs all year long. With a lockout looming, these huge ratings have to be seen as a good sign for people who want to see all 82 games played next season, whether they’re watching the Heat hoping to see them win or hoping to see them fall flat on their faces.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, when the Heat play, people watch. Maybe they’re watching to see them win, maybe they’re watching out of curiosity, or maybe they’re watching in hopes that they’ll get their butts kicked like they did on Sunday night.
Either way, people have been watching, and the Heat have been setting huge television ratings all year long. Combining the Heat with the Bulls, who had the greatest NBA dynasty of the modern era and have some of the most passionate sports fans in America, led to some record ratings on Sunday night:
The Chicago Bulls were even more dominant on TV than they were on the court Sunday night against the Miami Heat in the opener of NBA Eastern Conference finals playoff series.
National numbers released Monday showed the Bulls’ ‘103-82 rout on TNT to be the most-viewed basketball game in cable history, with more than 11.109 million total viewers and a 6.2 overall household rating. The previous record was the 10.829 million viewers for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, which was Michael Jordan’s final appearance in the mid-season exhibition.
Ratings were especially good in Chicago, where the game drew a monster 24.3 average rating, just edging out the 23.3 rating the game drew in Miami.