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No Timeout for NBA Fans During Finals, Alphonso Says

Basketball fans were glued to the set during the first game of the NBA Finals, while hockey viewers weren’t quite as frozen to the opener of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, according to data from analytics firm Alphonso.

The average tune in time for game one of the Golden State Warriors championship series against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers was 1 hour and 43 minutes of the game, which lasted about 2 hours and 30 minutes. That means the average viewer watched 70% of the game.

Golden State won in overtime after a huge blunder by Cavaliers player J.R. Smith.

Related: McDonald’s Looks to Score Again Before Finals Game 2

The hockey game, between the first-year expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, was watched for an average of 84 minutes, or 47% of the 3 hour game, Alphonso found. The Knights won game one.

Alphonso also noted that in both games, just 8% of the audience was from the participating teams’ home markets, with 92% out of market. TV networks usually root for teams in large markets to make the finals to boost ratings.

"We're only at the beginning of the NBA Finals, but Alphonso data already shows that it's capturing twice the audience that the NHL did during the Stanley Cup,” said Alphonso CEO Ashish Chordia.

“Even more interesting for advertisers though, is that the data shows the popularly held belief that teams from major cities draw greater regional tune-in isn't true every time. TV viewers from San Francisco Bay Area were surely rooting for the Warriors during the last two games, but they still only made up a fraction of the broader audience,” Chordia said. “So, commercials can't lean too heavily into local flavor, if you want them to resonate with the entire viewership."

Streaming is also becoming a bigger part of the playoff experience.

According to Conviva, the number of streams is up 21.42% for the first two games of the NBA finals. In Cleveland streaming was up 159.8%, with the bigger jump coming in-game when the number of streams was up 205.7%. In the Warriors base in the Bay Area, streams were up 39.1% for the two games.

Peak concurrent plays were up 72.4% and unique devices/applications were up 10.64%.