MIAMI — The Heat haven’t been in the NBA Finals since 2014, but that doesn’t mean South Florida has stopped watching the championship series.
The television ratings through the first three games of this year’s NBA Finals continue a positive trend for basketball locally. According to Nielsen, the television ratings for Sunday’s Game 2 in the Miami market ranked sixth with a 15.8 rating behind just San Francisco, Cleveland, Memphis, Columbus and Sacramento — four of those five markets have an obvious tie to the Finals between Golden State and Cleveland as cities in either California or Ohio.
The Miami market ranked 11th for Wednesday’s Game 3 with a 14.3 rating and 19th for Game 1 with a 12.3 rating. The West Palm Beach market ranked 23rd for Game 1 with a 11.0 rating, 24th for Game 2 with a 12.0 rating and 24th for Game 3 with a 12.4 rating.
This isn’t the first year that an NBA Finals game not involving the Heat has drawn an impressive TV rating locally. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale market ranked fourth for Game 2 of the 2017 Finals and Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, both series also involved Cleveland and Golden State.
What’s the reason for this? It could be South Florida’s love-hate relationship with LeBron James or it could just be that South Florida now cares about basketball more than ever after the Heat’s recent championship success.