2022 NBA Finals Could Produce Strong Ratings

The 2022 NBA Finals features two of the sport’s most popular teams. With the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics set to meet in what’s expected to be a highly competitive series, the league should get its best television ratings in a few years.

This year’s playoffs have been the NBA’s most-watched postseason in three years. The Western Conference Finals between the Warriors and Dallas Mavericks averaged 6.7 million viewers on TNT, via Sports Media Watch, an increase from 2021 and 2020. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Miami Heat averaged 9.88 million viewers, making it the league’s most-watched game outside of the NBA Finals since 2018.

NBA TV ratings are still down compared to pre-pandemic postseasons. Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers drew an average of 13.59 million viewers.

What does that mean for the 2022 NBA Finals ratings? Viewership should be up compared to the 2020 and 2021 NBA Finals, but possibly not as high as the ratings for the 2018 NBA Finals.

Last year’s Finals were played a month later than usual. The series is back on its typical schedule in 2022. The Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals, Nielsen doesn’t account for Canadian viewership in its ratings.

The Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals for an average 10.0 rating and 17.7 million viewers. When the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in last year’s Finals over six games, an average of 9.9 million viewers watched each contest for a 5.2 rating.

It seems likely that the 2022 NBA Finals will average well over 10 million viewers per game. Not only have ratings been up this postseason, but they’ve been particularly good in games involving the Warriors and Celtics.

Game 7 between the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks was the NBA’s most-watched Eastern Conference Semifinals game in a decade. Even in a sweep, Boston and the Brooklyn Nets produced the league’s most-watched first-round series in six years. The Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies played in the NBA’s most-watched second-round opener in 10 years.

A longer series should mean better ratings. Golden State is only a slight better favorite over Boston, suggesting that the 2022 NBA Finals could go six or seven games.

Without LeBron James or Kevin Durant, this year’s series probably can’t match the viewership of the Finals from four years ago. Stephen Curry, however, is as big as any star in the NBA. A close series with Jayson Tatum and the Celtics could blow past the 2021 viewership.

Every NBA Finals game will be broadcast on ABC.


Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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