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.
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.”