ABC's coverage of Game 7 of the NBA Finals was the most-watched ever on the network and the best for the pro hoops league since 1998, during Michael Jordan's last game for the Chicago Bulls.
ABC garnered a 15.6 rating and 28.2 million viewers with Game 7, according to Nielsen data, as the Los Angeles Lakers repeated as NBA champions, with an 83-79 over the Boston Celtics. The June 17 game, in which Kobe Bryant was named MVP and the Lakers captured their 16th title to move within one of the Celtics' league-best 17, was ABC's top telecast since it began airing The Finals in 2003.
The previously alluded to Jazz-Bulls game on June 14, 1998 -- featuring Jordan's famous push-off against Bryon Russell before connecting on the game-winner -- dunked an NBA record 22.3 rating/ 38 share and some 35.9 million viewers for NBC, as Chicago completed its second three-peat.
Over the seven games, ABC averaged 18.1 million viewers, the most for the network with The Finals, as the Alphabet won each of the seven nights it aired the action.
The 2010 Finals grew 26% in rating (10.6 versus 8.4) and viewers (18.1 million versus 14.4 million) versus LA's five-game triumph over Orlando in 2009. The seven-game series rose 45% in viewership (versus. 12.5 milion) and 29% in rating (8.2) compared to the last full-length Finals, the San Antonio Spurs/Detroit Pistons in 2005.
By way of comparison, Bulls-Jazz in 1998 was the NBA's best, with an 18.7 rating over six games.
The Lakers-Celtics Game 7 ranked as the second highest-rated broadcast on television since March, trailing only the Academy Awards. In total viewers, Game 7 lifted ABC to post its top summer Thursday in more than 18 years.
In Los Angeles, Game 7 delivered a 39.7 local rating, its highest-rated broadcast to date in 2010.
On the digital side, visits to ESPN.com's NBA section were up 24% during the 2010 Finals, according to officials at the sports programmer. ESPN.com's online video starts during The Finals were 19% better than last year. On mobile devices, visits to the ESPN.com NBA section jumped 64% over the 2009 tally.