Zion Williamson's Debut Gives ESPN Second-Best Non-Christmas Audience
Zion Williamson’s NBA debut on Wednesday night (Spurs-Pelicans) averaged 2.36 million viewers on ESPN, marking the second-best non-Christmas Day game this season to date. ESPN’s top telecast this season remains Celtics-Raptors on Christmas Day (3.32 million). Lakers-Mavericks on Nov. 1 also topped Williamson's debut with 2.57 million. When the Lakers played the Pelicans on Nov. 27 without Williamson, that game averaged 2.34 million viewers. ESPN will get another crack at a Williamson-LeBron James matchup on Sunday, March 1, in primetime. ESPN has the Pelicans slated for a total of four more games this season, but there could be some flex scheduling, as was the case for Spurs-Pelicans. ESPN already had the Pelicans six times before Williamson debuted, and flexed out of another Pelicans game on Dec. 20. Meanwhile, TNT has two more Pelicans games on its schedule after having five without Williamson earlier this season. ABC missed out on Williamson this past Sunday, and viewership suffered for that afternoon window. The broadcast net has one more scheduled Pelicans game on Feb. 2 against the Rockets.
MOVING THE NEEDLE: NBA social content around Williamson's debut earned more than 25 million views in the 24-hour period around the game. The number of unique international viewers on NBA League Pass also was up 190% from the average game on the platform this season. Meanwhile, ESPN's "Hoop Streams" digital pregame show set a regular-season audience record across Twitter, YouTube and the ESPN app with 1.6 million views for the 60-minute show, which was filmed on-site in New Orleans.