The NBA drew 4.921 million viewers for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets on Friday evening, while that number dropped to 3.170 million for Game 2 airing on Sunday evening against NBC's coverage of the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots (17.689 million viewers), according to data from ShowBuzzDaily. The drop competing against the NFL on Sunday evening represents a 36 percent decrease.
Sports Media Watch reports that Game 2 was the least watched Conference Finals game since the Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets in 2003.
The NBA's drop competing against the NFL on Thursday, however, wasn't as dramatic.
ESPN drew 4.008 million viewers for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, 3.479 million for Game 2 on Thursday, and 3.810 million for Game 3 on Saturday. Game 2 competed against Thursday Night Football with the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals drawing 6.676 million viewers with the NBA taking a 13.3 decrease.
Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets last Tuesday was the highest rated NBA telecast of the week with 5.226 million viewers.
For the 2019 Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, the first three games each had more than seven million viewers. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors drew 5.5 million viewers for Game 1, 4.4 million viewers for Game 2 and 6.2 million viewers for Game 3.
TV ratings for sports individually are down across the board with the packed fall schedule.