The league’s quarantine restart brings the TV numbers well above the pre-shutdown average.
Add the NBA to the list of sports leagues that reported strong TV numbers with their return to competitions.
The first professional basketball games in the United States since mid-March averaged 2.73 million viewers on Thursday night’s TNT, led by a marquee match between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. The vision of the digital platform pushed the total audience to 2.9 million, according to Turner Sports.
This figure is more than double the average number of viewers for an NBA game on the league’s national broadcast partners this season (TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV). Thursday’s games did not represent the season’s highs for the championship, in the way that the start of the baseball season a week earlier, when a New York Yankees-Washington National television broadcast attracted the largest audience of ESPN ever.
The NBA has 22 of its 30 teams quarantined at the Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, where each will play eight games to seed the playoffs before the start of the season. The league has so far avoided any coronavirus outbreak since players, coaches and staff arrived in the Orlando bubble in mid-July – unlike Major League Baseball, which has seen multiple cases so far across multiple teams.
The Clippers-Lakers game averaged 3.35 million viewers on TNT, peaking 4.1 million from 9:45 am to 10:00 pm ET at the start of the contest. It was also by far the most voted show by adults between 18 and 49 years of age broadcast or cable in the early evening, achieving a score of 1.56 in the demographic key of the announcement. This is a little behind the 3.6 million who witnessed the opening of the season between the same two teams on October 22nd, but so far it is the eighth most viewed game of the regular season.
The doubleheader’s first game, between Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans, drew 2.11 million viewers and a score of 0.95 among adults 18-49 years old. The games were blacked out in all three markets and broadcast on regional sports networks there, which are not included in the national numbers.
After the games, Inside the NBA attracted 1.29 million viewers, doubling the season average and marking the biggest audience since the opening week of the 2018-19 season.