The NBA Finals -- which saw the Golden State Warriors win over the Boston Celtics four games to two -- witnessed 21% higher average viewers and 32% more branded searches for NBA Final sponsors versus last year's event.
Still, the event is down 19% in viewers from the pre-pandemic 2019 finals, when the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors four games to two.
The NBA event averaged 12.32 million Nielsen-measured viewers -- higher than the total of 10.15 million viewers in 2021 when the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns -- and 7.66 million viewers for the 2020 pandemic-period “bubble” finals, when the Los Angeles Lakers became champions, winning over the Miami Heat.
Viewers for the 2022 Warriors-Celtics games rose throughout the series, from 11.4 million (Game One) to 13.99 million (Game Six).
Although these finals are nowhere near any of the previous 12 pre-pandemic series (from 2008 through 2019) in terms of viewing, NBA marketers this year took a winning lap in terms of online digital engagement.
Branded searches grew 32% to 17.4 million over a year ago, according to EDO Ad EnGage, a TV analytics company. The biggest category is movie marketers, registering a collective 10 million branded searches.
Top movies on the list include: Walt Disney-Marvel Studios’ "Thor: Love and Thunder," Warner Bros.’ "Black Adam," and Universal Pictures' "Nope." Hulu’s limited TV episode series, "Prey," also gained significant attention.
Automotive branded searches came in at a total of two million, with the Hyundai Ioniq electric car scoring the strongest result among non-entertainment marketers. Other auto marketers, including the Acura Integra Prototype and Kia EV6, did well.
National TV advertising-spending estimates for the series were $189 million, according to iSpot.tv -- coming from 2,258 advertisers' airings, resulting in 7 billion impressions.
Top biggest paid advertisers, in terms of equivalent 30-second commercial airings, according to iSpot.tv, were YouTube TV (with 50.5 airings); Universal Pictures (50 airings); McDonald's (45.5); State Farm (45); Google Pixel (41); Toyota Motors (38); Kia Motors (31); Nissan (29); Burger King (26); and Modelo (21).