The NBA is enjoying a post-Michael Jordan resurgence when it comes to the championship round, with the most-watched NBA Finals since Jordan played in his last postseason with the Bulls in 1998. But even with Round Three of the Warriors vs. LeBron pushing the average audience to a 20-year high-water mark, the numbers serve as a reminder that football is still king, James.
Even with the biggest audience in a generation, the NBA Finals averaged 20.4 million viewers for each of the five games between Golden State and Cleveland, with no real competition elsewhere on TV. In contrast, NBC’s Sunday Night Football averaged 20.3 million viewers in 2016, despite constantly facing first-run programming like The Walking Dead.
So, yes, basketball is doing better than it has at any time since Jordan became only a shoe salesman. But the NBA still has a very long way to go to become what the NFL continues to be.