Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 on ESPN Delivers Highest Overnight Rating for NBA Playoff Game Ever on Cable

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

June 4th, 2012

via press release:

Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 on ESPN Delivers Highest Overnight Rating for NBA Playoff Game Ever on Cable


Sunday night’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 on ESPN – in which Boston defeated Miami in overtime to even their series 2-2 - delivered a 7.9 overnight rating, the highest ever for an NBA playoff game on cable (records back to 2003), according to Nielsen. The game peaked with a 10.7 rating during overtime.


The 7.9 overnight rating is up 39 percent compared to Game 4 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals – Mavericks/Thunder - on ESPN (5.7) and up 30 percent compared to Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals – Magic/Celtics – on ESPN (6.1).


In Boston, the game generated a 20.7 rating, the highest for an NBA playoff game ever in the market. Additionally, the game posted a 19.8 rating in Miami – the third highest rating for an NBA playoff game on ESPN in the market.


Additionally, Game 4 set new records for an NBA game on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, generating more than 24.5 million minutes, which translates to an average minute audience of more than 128,000. Also, the average for total minutes for the four games of the Eastern Conference Finals is up 105 percent across all platforms, compared to 2011 (five games.)


The Eastern Conference Finals will continue on ESPN with Game 5 on Tuesday, June 5, at 8:30 p.m. ET with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke providing commentary. The Finals on ABC will begin Tuesday, June 12.

  • JR

    Whoa! I expected high ratings but not this high. Yessssss! Love the NBA!

  • David

    WOW! Are we still comparing the NHL and the NBA? Soon the comparisons in ratings for the playoffs between the MLB and the NBA won’t even mean much anymore. The ratings for game 5 will be insane and if there is a game 7…

  • JR

    So much for the NBA’s decline because of the lockout.

  • JR

    The NBA already does better than MLB among 18-49

  • tatiG

    Insane. Good script Stern. I guess NBC is wondering why they didn’t renew the contract.

    But, Hopefully the NBA stays on ESPN & ABC. Yes, they don’t have the likes of Bob Costas & Dough, but I think they have much better coverage due to a variety of different medium and platforms.

    NBA in decline? what?

  • SarahL

    Wow, the NBA is rocking the ratings!

  • CharlieSheen

    Are we still comparing leagues again? STOP IT!

    The NBA has gotten lucky this season with two great quality Conference Finals series on both ESPN and TNT, I think it was unexpected with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls out of the picture that the Boston Celtics could literally upset the Heat and kick them out before the Finals. This numbers are going to get monstrous as the series goes on with all of these overtime games. I expect ESPN to set another record potentially beating the most watched Monday Night Football game of all-time which was set in 2010 I think it was almost 20 million viewers.

  • TatiG

    Not comparing the leagues, but Hockey fans have been touting how the NHL is beating the NBA’s butt. that is how it started.

    Get this, NHL Finals, on Network TV, NBC, drew 0.9 ratings compared to 7.9 NBA Conference Final on Cable.

    No need to compare anymore. Debate over, until the NHL get some more life, and all NHL fans come here to troll again.

  • SF

    Awesome!! Let’s go Heat!!

  • JR

    @charliesheen I doubt any conferences finals games can beat Monday night football. The NFL is miles ahead of every other sport in the U.S. But I can see a good 15 million viewers for a game 7

  • Bryan S

    NHL vs NBA debate? Laughable and is a senseless debate. I think the Stanley Cup Championship (the series) has NEVER broken a 5.0 rating; and has only broken a 5.0 for a single game two or three times in last 40 years, with all of them coming in the early 70’s. They had a great showing (4.8 rating; 8.5M viewers) for Game 7 for last year’s SCF between Bruins and Canucks, but appears to be anomaly rather than a norm.

    I know NHL fans want to include Canada’s viewership #’s into the equation, but come on, do we include those #’s into the equation when we consider the NFL SuperBowl, MLB World Series, or NBA Finals?

  • JR

    The real comparison should be who’s number 2. NBA or MLB? The amount of viewers for regular season and playoffs is neck and neck every season. Only thing is the NBA does much better with younger viewers. That’s a great sign

  • David

    Yea, I doubt a game 7 would get over 20 million, but I could see it getting very close. The Celtics have a lot of old school basketball fans that probably do not watch anymore, but they would watch Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnet take it to Lebron in a shutout game. A game 6 and 7 would just be massive for the NBA. Game 5 is going to be huge also.

  • USAmerica1st

    Humongous numbers, probably helped along by the influence of Twitter (which also caused the golf numbers to jump as Tiger surged at Jack’s tournament). Fantastic NBA game. I’ve been ignoring the other SA-OKC series, but this Celtics-Heat series is becoming ‘must see’ NBA drama: the old Celtic geezers refuse to go away.

  • Bryan S

    @ JR. For the past couple of years, the NBA has actually outperformed MLB in terms of regular season TV ratings. NBA Finals have also outperformed MLB WS 3 out last 4 years. There hasn’t been a single regular season MLB baseball game this season that has garnered 5M+ viewers. Whereas, NBA has had several of those games even in a lock-out shortened season.

  • Melanie

    Yippee for the NBA!! Wished the Heat would’ve won though, but glad they are going back to Miami and hopefully Chris Bosh will be able to play.

  • Joseph

    Boston is a much larger market than Miami, but Miami had LeBron James, the biggest star the NBA has at the moment.

    No one on Boston’s roster is really a “household name” outside of New England.

    And since the Western finalist will be from a small market (Oklahoma City or San Antonio), ABC is hoping for LeBron and Company to all the way.

  • Joseph

    LeBron is still with Miami. Sorry for the typo.

  • USAmerica1st

    @ Joseph, I’m sure Commissioner David Stern also is hoping for Miami vs probably SA, but no one is running away with these conference championships.

  • JR

    Actually Miami vs OKC would do better ratings. 2 best players in basketball Lebron vs Durant. OKC will win the title

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