Lakers-Heat Game 1 reportedly attracts lowest NBA Finals viewership since 1994

Key Points
  • Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angles Lakers and Miami Heat attracted 7.4 million viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
  • The game was the lowest-rated NBA Finals game since Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals featuring the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. 

In this article

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Miami Heat during Game One of the NBA Finals on September 30, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at AdventHealth Arena.
Fernando Medina | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

The National Basketball Association played Game 1 of its Finals to an average of 7.4 million viewers on ABC, its lowest viewership for a Finals contest since 1994.

The viewership totals were reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Requests to the NBA and ESPN, which produced the game for ABC, to confirm viewership totals were not returned.

The Disney-owed network usually releases its viewership numbers on its website, but failed to due so on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat, 116-98, led by forward Anthony Davis who scored a game-high 34 points. The NBA's championship matchup features Lakers star LeBron James playing one of his former teams in the Heat. 

James helped lead the Heat to four straight Finals appearances from 2010-2014.

The 2020 NBA's Finals opener was the lowest-rated Game 1 since 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs played the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. It also was the NBA's lowest viewed Finals contest since Game 5 of the Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks series in 1994.

The game, then on NBC, was interrupted due to the O.J. Simpson car chase. According to Nielsen ratings, the contest registered a 7.8.

Last year's Game 1 of the Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors attracted 13.3 million viewers. The NBA did set viewership highs in Canada for the game in 2019, reaching roughly 7.4 million viewers. But those numbers aren't counted as U.S. viewership.

The NBA continues its bubble Finals on Friday with Game 2 scheduled to start a 9 p.m. Eastern.

What Michael Jordan joining DraftKings means for Nike and the NBA
What Michael Jordan joining DraftKings means for Nike and the NBA