Nationally televised NBA games have increased their viewership 32 percent this season and are averaging 1.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen, the highest since the 2010-11 season. Those include games shown on ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.
The substantial increase makes sense given how many intriguing storylines appeared around the league over the summer. The Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Minnesota Timberwolves all added new superstars, while the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks have must-watch stars of their own.
The data doesn’t include locally televised games, which of course still makes up for a massive amount of televised NBA games. However, last season, NBA League Pass had a record number of subscribers and broke viewership records. More than 1.2 billion minutes of league pass were viewed.
TNT’s opening night game between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers was the second-most watched season opener in the channel’s history, despite being marred by Gordon Hayward’s gruesome first quarter injury. An average of 5.6 million viewers watched it.
Last week, ESPN also recorded its most watched NBA game (3.2 million) since Christmas 2016 when the Thunder faced the Golden State Warriors.