ESPN's coverage of Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals matched the fourth contest between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics as the highest-rated basketball telecast in cable history.
The worldwide leader's June 7 telecast of the Heat's series-tying victory -- behind 45 points and 15 rebounds from LeBron James -- delivered a 7.8 cable rating, a 6.8 U.S. household mark and 7.74 million households, according to Nielsen data. The 6.8 mark matched Game 4 of the series as the highest-rated NBA contest ever on cable, according to Nielsen (ratings back to 2003).
Similarly, the June 7 telecast matched ESPN's June 3 coverage with 11.07 million viewers. Those figures rank as the second-largest basketball audience ever on cable, behind the 11.11 million who witnessed Game 1 of the 2011 ECF between the Heat and Chicago Bulls on TNT.
The Game 6 telecast on June 7 was the highest-rated program on television -- broadcast and cable -- among viewers and all male and adult demos, making ESPN the top network overall on Thursday night.
Kia NBA Countdown, scored a 2.0 coverage mark, the highest-rated NBA pregame show ever on ESPN
Over the first six games of the 2012 ECF, ESPN averaged a 6.0 U.S. rating, up 40% from the 2011 Western Conference Finals on ESPN and up 33% from the ECF in 2010. The current series stands poised to become the most-watched basketball series in cable history.
ESPN concludes its NBA coverage for the 2011-12 season with Game 7 on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (ET). The winner will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals, tipping off June 12 on ABC.