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NBA Finals ratings plummet to 5.6M, lowest on record

Nielsen Media Research reports that 5.6 million viewers tuned in to ABC to watch the Los Angeles Lakers top the Miami Heat to capture the NBA title Sunday night, the lowest-rated Finals series on record.

The series, which included the league's biggest star in LeBron James and the second-largest market in Los Angeles, was played from the NBA's coronavirus bubble at Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance.

The 5.6 million viewers for the Finals was less than half the number who tuned in for a regular season "Sunday Night Football" match-up between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, which drew 11.4 million on NBC.

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For context, last year's NBA Finals Game 6 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors delivered 18.34 million viewers, while Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls drew 36.9 million in 1998 for their Game 6 victory over the Utah Jazz.

An ESPN documentary series that aired in May on Jordan's career in Chicago matched Lakers-Heat on Sunday night, averaging 5.6 million viewers across its eight parts.

The NBA has been criticized by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE and some Republican lawmakers for becoming too political in embracing the Black Lives Matter movement.

In June, the NBA announced it would paint the words "Black Lives Matter" on all of its courts, while allowing players to express social justice or other approved slogans on player jerseys.

This year's basketball season was played months later than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.