Not Quite

By Andrew Gilstrap

Oklahoma City fans watch the NBA Finals between the Thunder and Miami Heat. (Photo by Alonzo Adams, Associated Press)


The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder went only five games, and television ratings did not stand out as much as one would expect with the star power involved. There were not two games that topped the 20-million-average-viewer mark as I had predicted. There was not even one. It was interesting to see how the momentum on the Thunder who had won four in a row against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals and then the first game of the NBA Finals. Miami then won four in a row, including three at home, to take this year’s championship. The Thunder looked completely overmatched by Game 5, which the Heat turned into a blowout.

The Finals started with solid TV ratings, reaching more than 16 million average viewers in Game 1 and Game 2. The third game was on a Sunday, and this might have caused the dip to 15.5 million average viewers. (The initial report I saw said around 13 million, so the number has been adjusted up since then.) On the bright side, even in the lower-rated games, the broadcast on ABC still drew a strong share of the market and each game of the Finals was the biggest thing on TV for those respective days.

The numbers for the final two games have recently been adjusted up, because I originally saw 13-plus million for Game 4 and just over 15 million for Game 5. now says 17.5 million watched Game 4 and Game 5 drew an average of 18.5 million.

Understandably, the TV ratings for the NBA Finals were impacted by a lopsided series. Game 6s and 7s are generally where there’s a chance for records to get broken, but this series never got to that point. The Thunder could have done wonders by winning at least one game in Miami and taking the series back to Oklahoma City. I also believe questionable officiating, particularly in Games 2 and 3, might have effected the TV numbers and kept them from hitting higher marks in the last two Finals games. I’m certain this factor turned some people off who then ignored tuning in to the outcome of the series. There were also several moments of sloppy play throughout the series from both teams. I don’t think this series put the best face forward for the league like we might have expected it to, but, hey, LeBron James and the Heat got their championship. The monkey’s off LeBron’s back — for now.

Other Musings:

  • The Heat’s fans are often lambasted, but they really stepped up in this series. Miami didn’t lose any of its three home games. The fans were out of their minds for most of Game 5, which turned into a blowout in the Heat’s favor.
  • Although I liked seeing that each game was on a broadcast channel, I got a little bored with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy calling the games. I loved going back and forth between two different sets of voices in the conference finals, so having the same lineup for each game became underwhelming. Different play-by-play voices can practically change the feel of a game you’re watching.
  • With that being said, where is Kevin Harlan? I didn’t hear him all playoffs, and he was sorely missed.
  • ABC’s intro to the Finals was the same for two years prior to this, and I was fine with that. This year, the station basically recycled all the clips of past NBA Finals plays and moments and rearranged their order and gave it a different framing. Disappointing. I’d almost rather ABC go with the same intro for the third year in a row. Bring us something new next year, ABC.
  • Congratulations to the Heat. NBA Draft will be here in a few days.

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