Days before their highly anticipated second-round showdown, the Warriors and Lakers entertained two of the largest NBA First Round playoff crowds in ESPN history on Friday night.
Friday’s NBA 6 Kings-Warriors first-round game averaged 4.98 million viewers on ESPN, marking the largest first-round audience ever on the network. The previous high was 4.83 million in Lakers-Thunder Game 6 in 2010. As with all multi-year highs, keep in mind that out-of-home viewership wasn’t included in Nielsen’s final nationals three years ago.
Sacramento’s streak of wins, which peaked with 6.51 million viewers in the final quarter hour, generated the largest audience for an NBA vs. NFL Draft since that event expanded to a three-night, prime-time schedule in 2010.
In the night booth, the Lakers’ 40-point Game 6 defeat of the Grizzlies averaged 4.64 million — the third largest first-round crowd ever on ESPN, behind the Lakers-Thunder in ’10 and the Kings-Warriors earlier in the night. It should come as no surprise given the late start and explosion, viewership peaked in the first quarter at 5.65 million.
Both games increased by more than a third compared to last year’s Grizzlies-Timberwolves Game 6, which averaged 3.47 million.
The games swept all adult Friday night television screens 18-49, 18-34, and 25-54, topping the combined numbers for the NFL Draft on ABC, ESPN/ESPN2, and NFL Network. Grizzlies-Lakers have the highest rating with 1.7 in 18-49, 1.5 in 18-34 and 2.0 in 25-54, followed by Kings-Warriors at 1.6, 1.3 and 1.9 respectively and 1.8).
It should be noted that the draft is still syndicated for a larger audience (5.53 million).
Sunday’s Warriors-Kings 7 game numbers, which Golden State won in its second-round matchup with the Lakers, will be posted when they’re released on Tuesday.
In other NBA games, Celtics-Hawks Game 6 averaged 2.98 million Thursdays on TNT — up 12% from last year’s Suns-Pelicans (2.65 million).
(Nielsen ratings from ShowBuzz Daily 5.1, PR Network)