NBA Delivers Its Best Opening Weekend Playoff TV Ratings in a Decade

An average of 6.9 million viewers had to decide which team they hated less when the Boston Celtics edged the New Jersey Nets on Sunday. (Image credit: Disney/ABC)

Highlighted with a buzzer-beater win by the Boston Celtics over the New Jersey Nets on ABC Sunday afternoon, the NBA just had its best first-round linear TV audience in more than a decade. 

According to Nielsen data compiled by the league, the opening weekend of the 2022 NBA Playoffs averaged 4.05 million viewers across ABC, ESPN and TNT. That's the NBA's best playoff opening weekend since 2011. 

Sunday's Celtics-vs.-Nets series opener averaged 6.9 million viewers and peaked at 9.8 million watchers, making it the most viewed first-round game since 2016.

The NBA averaged 2.89 million viewers across the same platforms on opening weekend of its playoffs last season, which was a dramatic 49% improvement over the delayed pandemic "bubble" format that bottomed out the league's TV audience in 2020.

The NBA wrapped up last year's first round averaging 3.06 million viewers across the same linear platforms, its best numbers in three seasons. ▪️

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!