NBA Finals: Spurs-Heat Slide from 2013 Levels

The San Antonio Spurs’ roundball version of the “joga bonito” during the NBA Finals didn’t play so high with the Nielsens.

With only one competitive contest, ABC’s coverage of the 2014 NBA championship rematch took a double-digit tumble from last year’s Spurs-Miami Heat matchup.

The Spurs’ decisive five-game dethroning of LeBron James’s Heat -- San Antonio set a league mark for point differential in The Finals -- averaged a 9.3 rating and 15.5 million watchers on ABC, according to Nielsen data, declines of 11% and 12%, respectively, from the clubs’ epic seven-game battle last year.

The decline came despite the 17.9 million total viewers for ABC's June 15 telecast, as the final game of the NBA season ranked as its most-viewed -- up 19% from the previous high in the series and 10% greater than last year, when the teams were tied entering Game 5.

When gauged against the first five games of the 2013 Finals, the 2014 competition's average ratings and viewership improved 2% and 3%, respectively, from a 9.1 and 15.1 million. That series ramped up with the Nielsens with the hyper-competitive Games 6 and 7.

Spurs-Heat also was down 8% in both metrics from the 10.1 rating and 16.9 million viewers recorded for Miami’s five-game win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Overall, the Spurs-Heat series ranks as the lowest-rated and least-viewed NBA Finals since the 8.4 and 14.3 million watchers for Los Angeles Lakers-Orlando Magic in 2009.

Miami and San Antonio rank as Nielsen markets 16 and 36, respectively.