NBA Experiencing Early Increase In TV Viewership

Viewership for televised NBA games is up in this early season as compared to the previous two years, when ratings for games hit some all-time lows.Joel Embiid

Per Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, both TNT and ESPN have experienced a significant increase in overall viewers during the first week of the 2020-21 season.

“Tuesday’s Sixers-Knicks NBA regular season game averaged 1.43 million viewers on TNT, up 71% from Bucks-Heat on the comparable night of last season, which began in December (837K),” Lewis wrote.

“Compared to the previous traditional season two years ago, viewership increased 117% from Heat-Hawks on a Thursday night opposite the NFL (658K). The Nuggets-Jazz nightcap averaged 1.24 million, up 8% from last year’s December game (Pelicans-Suns: 1.15M) and up 59% from 2019 opposite the NFL (Nuggets-Pelicans: 784K).”

TNT has wisely moved its Thursday night NBA coverage to Tuesdays until after the first of the year, so as to not go head-to-head with the NFL’s ever-popular Thursday Night Football.

As noted previously, ESPN is also having its own share of rise in NBA watchers.

“Last Friday’s Suns-Lakers game drew a 1.1 rating and 2.09 million viewers on ESPN — down a tick in ratings but up 17% in viewership from Jazz-Lakers in ’19 (1.2, 1.78M). Nets-Sixers drew a 0.9 (+29%) and 1.68 million (+52%) earlier in the night,” Lewis wrote.

“ESPN averaged 1.82 million viewers for its Opening Week NBA doubleheaders, up 18% from 2019 and up 3% from 2018. Last year’s Opening Week slate included Christmas Day games.”

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