The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are proving to be a ratings bonanza for ABC, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Even witha small-market team in Oklahoma City, the series has attracted national interest -- especially with the showdown between two of the league’s superstars in Miami’s LeBron James and Oklahoma City’sKevin Durant.
The Times reports: “Ratings for the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are the highest on ABC since the network started televising the series in 2003, averaging16.099 million viewers.
“The series has averaged a 9.7 rating, an increase of 7% from the 9.1 rating through the first three games of the 2011 NBA Finals. Viewership is up 5% over last season'sfirst three games.”
Miami took a 2-1 series lead with a 91-85 win Sunday in Game 3 -- a broadcast that attracted 15.452-million viewers and generated an 8.8 rating, the Times reports. Game 4 isscheduled for tonight.
Ratings for Finals Remain High
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat have split the first two games of the N.B.A. finals — exciting matchups that have so far attractedmore viewers than any finals since ESPN and ABC’s current deal with the league began in 2002-03, according to Nielsen.
Game 2, which the Heat won, 100-96, was seen by an average of 16.7 millionviewers on ABC, 7 percent better than the comparable broadcast last year between the Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.
Through two games, the average viewership of 16.4 million is also 7 percent ahead oflast year.
Usually, the number of viewers grow as a series progresses. Last year, when Dallas beat Miami in six games, Game 5 drew 18.3 million viewers and Game 6 hit the peak of that series with23.9 million.
There appears to be no doubt that the Thunder are a strong national attraction, with its stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, despite Oklahoma City’s ranking as the 44th...