Game 7 of N.B.A. Finals Draws Close to 31 Million Viewers

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers after defeating the Golden State Warriors. Credit Beck Diefenbach/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The thrilling Game 7 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors Sunday night drew nearly 31 million viewers, the biggest total for an N.B.A. finals game in 18 years.

The matchup was rich with story lines: LeBron James’s bid to win the first championship for a Cleveland sports franchise in 52 years versus Golden State’s march toward one of the best seasons in National Basketball Association history. To the delight of ABC executives, the game was decided in the final seconds. The Cavs took the championship, 93 to 89.

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Viewership peaked in the final minutes, between 10:30 and 10:40 p.m., with a whopping 44.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen. It was the sort of audience usually reserved for National Football League playoff games.

By comparison, last year’s deciding Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals, also between the Warriors, of Oakland, Calif., and Cavaliers, drew 23.3 million viewers.

Sunday’s game was the most-viewed finals game since Game 6 in 1998, which turned out to be Michael Jordan’s final game as a player. It was also the most-watched telecast since the 2016 Academy Awards, which had 34.4 million viewers, ABC said. It also had the highest rating in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic since Super Bowl 50 in February.

Part of Game 7 ran opposite one of the most-viewed shows in television: HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

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