Oklahoma City and Miami are not big markets — Miami is 14th largest among NBA teams, Oklahoma City 28th.
But the NBA is a star-driven league — the names involved matter more than where the team is from. And with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant you knew that David Stern would be happy, that this was going to be a big ratings draw finals for the NBA.
Game 1 was — it got an 11.8 rating that is a 10 increase over last year’s Game 1 (Miami vs. Dallas), ESPN announced. It even beat the 2004 NBA finals Game 1, back when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were still teammates and civil. Barely.
That is not Jordan era numbers, but it’s the best we’ve seen since then. (And we never may see Jordan era numbers again because of the fragmentation of media, the internet and all that. Different times, different media consumption.)
The game drew a massive 44.3 rating in Oklahoma City, the highest for an NBA game ever in the market. In Miami, the game generated a 30.5 rating.
The fifth highest rated market? Cleveland (17.8). I think those people liked how the game turned out.