Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (2) is defended by Golden State’s Draymond Green in the second half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena Monday in Toronto, Canada. (Vaughn Ridley | Getty Images/TNS)

Sportsnet: Record average audience of 6.4 million tuned in for Game 5

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors may have missed a chance to close out their first NBA championship, but they were a winner once again in the ratings.

Sportsnet announced Tuesday that it set another Canadian record for an NBA game with an average of 6.4 million viewers for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a 106-105 win by the Golden State Warriors at Scotiabank Arena that cut the Raptors lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.

The broadcaster says audience levels peaked at 8.5 million at 11:32 p.m. ET, as the game was coming down to the wire.

The numbers includes viewers on Sportsnet and Citytv, but does not include people watching the American feed.

Every game in the series has so far set a new Canadian NBA ratings record. Game 4 of the series reached an average of 4.631 viewers on TSN, CTV2 and the French language broadcast on RDS.

Sportsnet and TSN, whose parent companies are co-majority owners of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (which owns the Raptors), split the NBA team’s broadcast schedule.

The reported numbers are now surpassing the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff levels. The Blue Jays had an average audience of 5.12 million for Game 6 of the American League championship in 2015 and 4.02 million for the 2016 AL wild-card game on Sportsnet channels.

Traditionally, the Raptors’ television numbers are well behind the Blue Jays. The Raptors and Blue Jays are the only Canadian teams in their respective leagues.

Meanwhile, ratings seem to be recovering south of the border after a steep drop from last year’s Finals over the first four games.

The Hollywood Reporter said ABC’s Game 5 broadcast scored a 13.4 household rating in metered markets, a 34 per cent improvement over the average for the first four games.

Ratings in the U.S. had taken an expected downturn with a Canadian team in the Finals and the absence of superstar LeBron James for the first time in nine seasons. Canadian viewers do not factor into the U.S. ratings formula.

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