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Volume 25 No. 6
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Rocking The Rim: NBA Sees Best TV Viewership Since ’13-14

Nationally-televised NBA games during the ’17-18 season -- the second one as part of a nine-year, $24B rights deal -- saw their best average viewership since the ’13-14 campaign. Games across ABC, TNT, ESPN and NBA TV averaged 1.28 million viewers, the league’s best mark since 1.29 million in ’13-14. This season’s average also is up 8% from 1.19 million viewers last season. Each individual network saw a gain this season after each one was down in Year 1 of the media deal. ABC’s average of 3.82 million viewers over 17 games was up 17% from last season (which was its lowest season since ’07-08), but below the 3.93 million viewers from ’15-16, which was the first season with Saturday primetime games. ABC also saw a 17% jump among males 18-34 this season. The eight Saturday night ABC games averaged 3.39 million viewers, up 15% from last season (2.95 million). Sunday afternoon games on ABC averaged 2.95 million viewers, which is that window’s best figure in four years. “NBA Countdown” on ABC averaged 1.63 million viewers, up 12% from 1.46 million viewers last season, and up from 1.56 million viewers two seasons ago.

CABLE LAND: TNT this season saw its most-watched NBA regular season since ’13-14. The average of 1.74 million viewers over 67 games was up 13% from last season as well. Viewership among males 18-34 for TNT games was up 14%. “Players Only” telecasts on the net were up 17% as well. Meanwhile, ESPN saw a 4% gain for games this season. The cable net averaged 1.63 million viewers over 87 games -- ESPN's highest number of games on record -- and that figure is up 4% from 1.57 million viewers last season. The audience for ESPN two seasons ago, with much fewer games, was 1.65 million viewers. ESPN saw a 5% jump among males 18-34. NBA TV also averaged 314,000 viewers this season, up 1% from last season, but down from the net’s record set two season ago (345,000).

VIEWERSHIP TREND FOR NBA REGULAR-SEASON GAMES
SEASON
ABC (000)
TNT (000)
ESPN (000)
NBA TV (000)
'17-18
3,818
1,742
1,628
314
'16-17
3,265
1,540
1,566
312
15-16
3,926
1,682
1,652
345
'14-15
3,588
1,669
1,504
291
'13-14
3,584
1,900
1,678
316
Download the
NBA Regular Season Viewership Trend

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The NBA also performed well regionally this season, with games on RSNs averaging a 2.4 local rating, up 4% from last season. Meanwhile, NBA League Pass set a record for worldwide digital subscriptions, up 63%. The service this season introduced new features such as in-arena coverage during TV breaks, a VR package, monthly pricing options and Spanish-language video for some games. On social media, the NBA set a new record for interactions at 808 million (+25%), as well as video views at 11 billion (+43%). Since the end of last season, 8.7 million followers have joined the NBA social media outlets. Overall, the league has more than 1.5 billion likes and followers combined across all league, team and player social platforms worldwide.