The Eastern Conference Finals features two players who could be considered the NBA’s best in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard, a team that posted the league’s best record and point differential (Milwaukee Bucks) and a grizzled opponent looking to make their first NBA Finals (Toronto Raptors).
None of that seems to be a compelling draw for the average viewer in the United States, however.
The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch detailed that Game 2 between the Bucks and Raptors averaged 4.39 million viewers on TNT, down 48 percent year-over-year from when the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers squared off against the Boston Celtics in 2018.
The Raptors-Bucks has been fascinating from a basketball perspective. But the ECF is where the NBA has seen its TV viewership crater. Per @paulsen_smw: Friday’s Game 2 drew 4.39 million viewers on TNT, down 48% from CLE-BOS on ESPN last year & 14% from CLE-BOS on TNT in 2017.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 21, 2019
It’s worth noting that Canadian television numbers don’t figure into these calculations but you have to wonder what the Raptors have to do to capture the imagination of the average fan.
for ratings, that pair of markets was probably worst-case scenario for the east. those televisions in canada don’t count for american ratings. https://t.co/5eOXXZ4wZR
— bomani (@bomani_jones) May 21, 2019
After the Raptors took down the Bucks in a double-overtime thriller on Sunday, perhaps the audience will come flocking back for a pivotal Game 4.
More Raptors coverage from Yahoo Sports