Game 2 ratings for NBA Finals increases from Bucks-Suns opener

Jul 12, 2021, 9:28 AM
Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) shoots against Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker (17) during the second h...

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker (1) shoots against Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker (17) during the second half of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

(AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

An average of 9.4 million viewers watched Game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks-Phoenix Suns NBA Finals last Thursday, according to ESPN.

That was an uptick from the series opener in Phoenix, which averaged 8.56 million viewers across the country and peaked around 10 million about two hours and 15 minutes into the game.

The Suns won Game 2, 118-108, to take a 2-0 series lead before the Bucks on Sunday won at home at Fiserv Forum.

Locally in Phoenix, a 23.7 market rating for Game 1 was the highest since the 2000 championship opener between the Lakers and Indiana Pacers. For Game 2, that jumped to a 24.9 rating in Phoenix and registered at 24.8 in Milwaukee.

Viewership for Game 2 was up 41% compared to a year ago.

Combined, the average viewership of the first two games (8.97 million) is up 26% from 2020, when the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat played in the bubble.

However, ratings for last year’s Finals made for historic lows.

In 2019, the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors saw Game 1 and 2 combined viewership average 13.78 million.

While some of that would suggest star power — LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — matters, timing does as well. These early July Finals fall into the usual free agency time period, while the bubble Finals at Disney World in 2020 took place in late September and early October.

Game 4 of the NBA Finals tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. and will air on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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