The 2018 NBA Finals wrapped up with the Golden State Warriors defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third time in four years. During this year’s four game sweep, 4C monitored buzz around the games, teams, and associated brands across screens.
Throughout the series, Golden State led Cleveland not only on the court, but also across Twitter and Facebook. The Warriors came out on top in terms of social media engagements with just over 5 million overall compared to the Cavalier’s nearly 3 million. While game 4 generated the greatest number of total engagements with 3.1 million and Golden State’s series high at 1.7 million, Cleveland peaked during game 1 with just shy of 1 million engagements, when the Cavaliers’ J. R. Smith dribbled out the clock on a tie, forcing the game into an overtime that his team would inevitably lose and launching the internet into a meme-generating frenzy. Despite Cleveland’s loss, star LeBron James was still the series’ most engaged player with nearly 3 million engagements during the Finals, thanks in part to speculation that he will choose to become a free agent following yet another Finals loss in his home city.
A Finals appearance creates a surge in engagement not only for the teams involved, but also for the team owners and arena rights holders. Throughout the Finals, Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert saw a 2,687% higher volume of social media engagement as compared to Kleiner Perkins, the company representing Golden State majority owner Joe Lacob. However, Oracle, the company whose name is emblazoned on the Warriors arena, blew Quicken Loans out of the water with 7,545% more engagement across Facebook and Twitter.
While ABC has exclusive rights to the NBA Finals broadcast, digital platforms like Bleacher Report are also popular for basketball fans looking to keep up with coverage. We looked into engagement around both ABC and Bleacher Report during each game, and found that digital native Bleacher Report saw 851% higher social media engagement throughout the series.
Using 4C’s proprietary Teletrax TV monitoring technology in tandem with Facebook and Twitter engagement data, we also found how social media reacted to TV ads throughout the Finals. Modelo’s ads featuring UFC fighter Stipe Miocic resonated with NBA Finals viewers, earning the brand an average 3,436% lift in engagement throughout the four games. Chipotle took the second spot, with a spot highlighting the fast-casual chain’s “real ingredients.”
As cultural moments continue to play out across screens, we’ll keep a finger on the pulse of the media buzz. Stay tuned for more Impact Reports covering sports, pop-culture, and politics and subscribe to our newsletter to get updates in your inbox.