The rating in Buffalo for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ historic 93-89 championship victory in game seven of the NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors Sunday night was as fabulous as the finish.
The game had a 12.6 rating on Channel 7, meaning 73,754 homes in our area were tuned in to LeBron James’ shot-making and shot-blocking MVP performance as the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 game deficit.
That’s the highest-rated NBA game locally in recent memory. The final 15 minutes had an 18.7 rating.
Nationally, the game averaged an 18.9 rating in the 56 overnight markets, the highest-rating in a decade.
To put the rating in perspective, Cleveland’s game six win to force game 7 had an 8.4 local rating on Channel 7. And HBO’s popular series “Game of Thrones” had a 2.9 rating at 9 p.m. Sunday opposite game seven and an 0.8 in its 11:30 p.m. repeat.
The highest-rated NBA games in recent memory in Buffalo were two games in the 2013 finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs that had ratings of 10.5.
Confession time. I wasn’t one of those watching in Buffalo Sunday night.
I watched the first half at my daughter’s home in Virginia and the second half outside a bar at the Reagan National Airport awaiting an 11 p.m. flight back home to Buffalo with 30 of my new best friends.
It was the first time I ever rooted for a flight delay at an airport.
Needless to say, almost everyone outside the bar – which closed at 10 p.m. but kept the game on – was rooting for Cleveland because of Buffalo’s kinship with their teams’ failures over the years.
When one person nearby shouted out, “only 10 more seconds to wait” with Golden State behind by four points, I added my two cents. “Ten seconds and 52 years,” referring to the last Cleveland champion: the Browns in 1964.
Actually, for the Cavs it is only 46 years. They came in the league in 1970, the same year as the Buffalo Braves.
Sunday's game ended just as the flight started boarding, an amazing bit of timing.
I plan on watching it again at 12:30 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. today when NBA TV carries a playback so I have a better view of how Cleveland managed to hold the NBA’s highest-scoring team without a point for the last 4 minutes and 38 seconds and to see what is already been referred to as The Block by James in the final minutes again.
The seven-game NBA series averaged an 8.2 rating on Channel 7. That is impressive for Buffalo but significantly lower than the games averaged nationally. Game 6 had a 14.1 overnight rating in the nation’s top markets and an 8.4 locally.
The six-game Stanley Cup Final averaged a 5.8 rating here, with the overall ratings taking a hit because two of the games were on cable and not broadcast television.
ABC's Mike Breen signed off the broadcast beautifully Sunday night, saying of James: "He may never be able to silence all his critics, but his third title is his greatest accomplishment and no doubt the sweetest of all, bringing that elusive title to his beloved hometown."
Part 5 of the “30 for 30” series, “O.J.: Made in America,” had only a 1.3 local rating on ESPN Saturday night, which is the lowest-viewing night of the week. Part 3 on Wednesday had a 3.4 rating and Part 4 on Friday a 2.2 rating.
However, live ratings don’t tell the full story about viewership of the Simpson series because so much of the viewing is seen On Demand or in some other secondary way.
Part 5, which wraps up the story, is the best of the five episodes and shouldn’t be missed.