The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors put on an all-time classic in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, a matchup that will be re-aired on NBA TV in perpetuity. It turns out a whole lot of people were viewing in real time as well.
ESPN announced Monday that Game 7 drew an 18.9 overnight rating, which is the highest-rated NBA telecast ever on ABC. The previous high, a Game 7 battle between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, drew an 18.2 overnight rating.
Full viewership numbers have not yet been made available. Overnight ratings are subject to change, although there are usually only minor adjustments.
ESPN also announced the game averaged 598,000 viewers on its streaming platform, WatchESPN. That's the highest average viewership for an event that was not related to the World Cup.
Spurred on by series MVP LeBron James, the Cavaliers knocked off the Warriors, 93-89, in Oracle Arena. James became just the third player in league history to record a triple-double (27 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds) in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, joining Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.
Cleveland also became the first team in Finals history and 11th in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. With James' quest to bring Cleveland its first major championship since 1964, the Warriors attempting to complete a historically great season and a number of fascinating minor storylines, the recipe was perfect for Game 7 to be a record-setting broadcast.
The Cavaliers and Warriors putting on a classic game that kept viewers transfixed until the final buzzer certainly helped, too.
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