Cavaliers’ title win draws 30.8 million on ABC, most-watched NBA game since 1998

LeBron James and daugher Zhuri at NBA Finals post-game press conference.
LeBron James answers questions as he holds daughter Zhuri during a post-game press conference following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Finals win.
(Associated Press)

ABC’s telecast of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors averaged 30.8 million viewers on Sunday night.

Only Super Bowl 50 on CBS, the Oscars on ABC and the NFL playoffs had larger audiences in 2016 than Game 7 of the NBA Finals in which the Cavaliers’ star forward LeBron James made good on his promise to bring a championship to his hometown.

For the record:
1:20 PM, Jun. 20, 2016 This story originally reported that Game 7 was the third most-watched telecast of 2016. It was among the most-watched telecasts of the year.

It was the largest average audience for an NBA game since 35.9 million watched Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz for the league’s title in 1998 on NBC.

The audience for Sunday’s game was also up 17% from the last NBA Finals Game 7 between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, which was watched by an average of 26.3 million viewers in 2013.


The Cavaliers’ first title was historic as no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. The Cavs achieved that feat against a Warriors team that had the best regular season record ever.

Among the 18-to-49 age group coveted by advertisers, Game 7 averaged an 11.2 rating, which topped the 10.5 rating for the Oscars telecast. 

The game averaged a 46.3 rating in Cleveland. In the Warriors’ home market of San Francisco, the game averaged a 39.4 rating. In Los Angeles, the contest scored an 18.4 rating. 

On ESPN’s online streaming platform WatchESPN, Game 7 had a total of 1.76 million unique viewers, the most for an ESPN event outside of World Cup soccer.


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12:20 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout with new data from Nielsen.

The article was originally published at 9:07 a.m.


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