The NBA Finals start Thursday in Los Angeles with the Lakers hosting the Orlando Magic in a best-of-seven. I predict it will go seven, with the Lakers winning it all. I am more curious, though, as to how much interest there is in this series.
The high-water mark for NBA Finals ratings came in 1998, when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls garnered an 18.7 rating for the series against Utah. The nadir was reached in 2007, when the rating for San Antonio-Cleveland was an abysmal 6.2. Last year's Lakers-Celtics did a respectable 9.3. This year, playoff ratings were up for both ESPN and TNT; however, ESPN's average of 8.71 million viewers for the Western Conference Finals was still more than 2 million shy of the typical ESPN "Monday Night Football" regular season game.
The NBA, while a major sport in the U.S., simply does not stir the passions nationwide found in the NFL and college football, while the World Series still outdraws the NBA Finals. Part of the reason is the time of year -- June is the start of vacations for many Americans and basketball is not normally considered a summer sport; the NBA season drags on way too long for all but diehards to care. I like the NBA playoffs, but seldom make it stay-home TV (that's what DVRs are for).
My question: Will you watch the Finals? Do you care who wins? Or are you satisified with highlights and catching part of the game if it happens to be on when you're home?