Why ratings are down for Celtics-Mavericks NBA Finals matchup

    The Boston Celtics’ blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday was the least watched Game 1 of the NBA Finals since 2007 (not counting the two pandemic-era Game 1s), per Sports Media Watch.

    Here are three reasons why interest in the series may be waning. 


    For understandable reasons, the NBA abandoned flexible schedules for the Finals, instead going with fixed dates for the games out of convenience. However, after the Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers and the Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games, that left a week-long gap between the end of the conference championships (May 30) and the start of the Finals (June 6).

    With endless entertainment options nowadays, some casuals and fans without a dog in the hunt may have bailed after the week-long wait. Many predicted that concern, including Mike Francesa, who called the scheduling quark a “disaster” for the NBA following the end of the Western Conference finals.

    The matchup 

    Heading into the Finals, the Celtics were an overwhelming favorite to win it all. That, coupled with the Celtics’ sweep of the Mavericks (2-0) during the regular season, lessened the intrigue for fans to tune in to Game 1.

    Meanwhile, following the Celtics’ dominating win on Thursday, those same fans have even more reason to believe they made the right choice to stay away. Boston has lost just twice in the playoffs and won eight straight after taking a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. If Game 2 has a similar result, viewer numbers could tank even further. 


    For the sixth consecutive season, the NBA will crown a different champion, which might be great for the league but could be bad for ratings. Surprisingly, parity might be a significant factor in the lack of interest in the Mavericks/Celtics series, as the lack of dynasty-type teams has led to a significant drop in viewership.

    The Golden State Warriors went to five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019, series that brought in a combined average of 18.6 million viewers. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat drew 16.8 million viewers on average over four straight trips to the Finals from 2011 to 2014.

    While it’s true that people are watching less and less traditional television, the numbers have dropped alarmingly. The four NBA Finals matchups since 2019 have drawn an average of only 10.4 million viewers.

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