ABC’s NBA Ratings Down Sharply From 2018

Viewership for the first two games of the series between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors was down sharply from last year's finals — 28% for the first game and 29% for the second, Nielsen said.  

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA’s first international Finals may be a coup for Canada, but decidedly not for ABC.

Viewership for the first two games of the series between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors was down sharply from last year’s finals — 24% for the first game and 26% for the second, the Nielsen company said.

While LeBron James fans may point to the star’s absence, geography likely accounts for most of the drop. Toronto’s television audience is not included in the Nielsen ratings, since it’s out of the U.S. Missing one team’s fan base is a huge hurdle for ABC.

It’s Golden State’s fifth straight appearance in the finals, while Toronto is there for the first time.

The most hopeful sign for ABC is that the teams split the first two games, raising the possibility of a long series. Viewership traditionally increases with competitive series.

The surest sign that summer is near is the return of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which was the top non-sports program of the week.


Behind the basketball, ABC won the week in primetime, averaging 5.4 million viewers. NBC had 3.92 million, nipping CBS and its average of 3.91 million. Fox had 2 million viewers, Ion Television had 1.4 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 650,000.

Fox News Channel was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 2.24 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.48 million, HGTV had 1.29 million, USA had 1.14 million and Hallmark had 1.12 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 7.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.3 million.

The Top 20

Primetime viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for May 27-June 2. Listings include the week’s ranking and viewership.

1. NBA Finals Game 2: Golden State at Toronto, ABC, 13.89 million.

2. NBA Finals Game 1: Golden State at Toronto, ABC, 13.38 million.

3. “NBA Finals Post-Game” (Sunday), ABC, 9.89 million.

4. “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 9.75 million.

5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.01 million.

6. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 6.14 million.

7. “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 6.03 million.

8. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 5.86 million.

9. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 5.58 million.

10. “Songland,” NBC, 5.51 million.

11. NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 1: St. Louis at Boston, NBC, 5.27 million.

12. “Mom,” CBS, 5.11 million.

13. “American Ninja Warrior,” NBC, 4.84 million.

14. “Life in Pieces,” CBS, 4.8 million.

15. “NBA Countdown” (Thursday), ABC, 4.77 million.

16. “Amazing Race,” CBS, 4.75 million.

17. “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 4.68 million.

18. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 4.52 million.

19. “Blood & Treasure,” CBS, 4.23 million.

20. “Whistleblower,” CBS, 4.14 million.

Editor’s note. This story has been updated to correct the percentages of the NBA Finals ratings drops compared to last year. The correct percentages were 24% down in Game 1, compared to 2018, and 26% down for Game 2, not 28% for Game 1 and 29% for Game 2.

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