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Volume 25 No. 4
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Playing Above The Rim: NBA Game Viewership Up For TV Partners

Both ESPN and TNT are on pace for the nets’ best NBA viewership since '13-14
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Heading into All-Star weekend, NBA game viewership on national outlets is on pace for the league’s best average since the '12-13 season. For telecasts across ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV, games are averaging 1.4 million viewers, up 15% from the same point last season. NBA games on RSNs also are performing well, with those games up 9% to date. Both ESPN and TNT are on pace for the nets’ best NBA viewership since '13-14, while NBA TV is looking at its best season average on record. ABC also is up slightly from the same point last year, but down from just before the '16 All-Star Game, when the net had four fewer game telecasts.

THE 123s OF ABC: The audience for Cavaliers-Warriors on Christmas Day was well below ABC’s same afternoon matchup the past two years, but the net’s average to date has been elevated up by a third Christmas game this year (compared to two in prior years), as well as last weekend’s Cavs-Celtics game. That matchup last Sunday afternoon averaged 4.6 million viewers, which is the best mark for an NBA Sunday afternoon game on ABC since Lakers-Heat drew 6.5 million viewers on Feb. 10, 2013.

WHAT TV DECLINE? NBA games on TNT are averaging 1.9 million viewers to date, up 20% from the same point last year. The net also is seeing double-digit percentage gains for all key demos, including an 18% gain among males 18-34. Meanwhile, ESPN is averaging 1.7 million viewers for its NBA games to date, up 10% from just before the All-Star break last year. ESPN also is seeing solid gains across all demos, including a 13% jump for males 18-34. On NBA TV, simulcasted games are averaging 354,000 viewers to date, up 20%. Demos are up across the board, including young males (+17%).