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Volume 26 No. 183
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ESPN Has Strong Night With Record NBA Lottery Rating, WCF Opener

Trail Blazers-Warriors was ESPN's highest-rated conference finals Game 1 since '12
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Trail Blazers-Warriors was ESPN's highest-rated conference finals Game 1 since '12
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Trail Blazers-Warriors was ESPN's highest-rated conference finals Game 1 since '12
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The NBA Draft Lottery delivered a record overnight rating for ESPN last night, fueled by buzz around Zion Williamson and the start of the Trail Blazers-Warriors Western Conference Finals. ESPN cut back the lottery telecast to 30 minutes after an hour-long broadcast last year, and the lottery drew a 3.9 overnight. That is up 77% from a 2.2 last year. The previous record was a 3.2 overnight in ’15. Last night’s lottery led into the 9:00pm ET WCF opener, which drew a 5.8 overnight, marking ESPN’s best conference finals Game 1 since Heat-Celtics in ’12. Last year, Cavaliers-Celtics Game 1 on ESPN drew a 5.4 overnight, while TNT drew a 6.7 for the Warriors-Rockets WCF opener last season (its best WCF Game 1 on record).

ROUND 2 WRAP: Strong conference semifinal viewership for the NBA Playoffs helped the league cut into the sharp drop seen in Round 1. For games across ABC, TNT and ESPN, the league averaged 4.9 million viewers for the conference semifinal round, up from 4.8 million last year. That figure also is the best second-round average since ’13. The six-game Warriors-Rockets series (7.0 million viewers) marked the most-watched second-round matchup since Thunder-Lakers averaged 7.2 million in ’12. The NBA during the conference semifinals won primetime on cable TV on 10 out of 12 nights. Among adults 18-34, those games won the night 11 out of 12 times. For the complete playoffs to date across all networks, the NBA is down 4%, averaging 3.5 million viewers (66 telecasts) compared to 3.7 million last year (64 telecasts).

TWEET TWEET: The increase in interest around the NBA Lottery also played out on social media last night, as tweets related to the event quadrupled compared to '18. The Knicks, as expected, were the most-mentioned team last night, followed by the Pelicans and Lakers. Williamson was the most-mentioned player, followed by Anthony Davis, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett and LeBron James. The most-retweeted NBA Lottery tweet came from ESPN's Stephen A. Smith commenting on the Knicks. The No. 2 tweet came from the Lakers account, which simply read "Whoa."