Game 6 of Bucks-Suns sees strong ratings

On July 21, 2021 — 2 minutes to read

A small-market NBA Finals didn’t do much to hurt the league in the ratings department.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ victory in the decisive Game 6 of the NBA Finals averaged 12.5 million viewers and peaked at 16.5 million viewers from 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET, ESPN announced on Wednesday.

Those numbers represent a 50 percent increase over last year — to go along with a 50-point night from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the end of a 50-year title drought for the Bucks — and the most-watched game of the series.

NBA Finals ratings way up from 2020, still down from 2019

The entire finals averaged 9.9 million viewers, up 32 percent from last year’s NBA Finals. While those Finals featured the NBA’s marquee team and player in the Los Angeles Lakers, the entire playoffs noticeably struggled in the ratings department due to a number of factors — particularly the timing of the series, which had to compete with NFL football and other fall television mainstays.

Per Sports Media Watch, the Bucks-Suns series were still down 38 percent in ratings and 33 percent in viewership against the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, though the series did feature the five most-watched NBA games since 2019. John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal also reports the entire NBA playoffs averaged 3.96 milllion viewers for 85 games across ABC, TNT, ESPN, and NBA TV, down 18 percent from 2019.

And, of course, the series was utterly devoured in the markets of the teams competing for the title. Game 6 set 25-year ratings records in both the Milwaukee (41.5 rating) and Phoenix (25.9 rating) markets, per ESPN.

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