Skip to main content

NBA Opening Week Viewership Up 67%

Marc Gasol #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Dec. 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Marc Gasol #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Dec. 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Image credit: John McCoy/Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association’s later-than-usual start to its new season was a slam dunk, with viewership of the NBA's opening week games on national TV up 67%.

Also Read: NBA Looks to Rebound as New Season Begins

The opening week games--including the Kia-sponsored Tip-Off--drew an average of 3.4 million viewers on TNT, ESPN and ABC, compared to 2 million who tuned into opening week last year, which ran from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25.

ESPN’s Christmas Day Games were up 10% from a year ago, averaging 2.83 million viewers. ABC’s game on Dec. 25 between the Lakers and Mavericks averaged 7.01 million viewers. 

Also Read: NBA Opening Night Ratings Increase 1% From a Year Ago

The Lakers-Mavericks game was the most watched show in network prime time that day. ESPN's Pelicans-Heat game was the most watched show on cable.

The strong opening comes amid lower ratings this TV season on broadcast and cable. It also follows a tough season for the NBA, which was disrupted and pushed competition with other sports including the NFL by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA said its NBA League Pass subscription service had a 67% increase in average minutes watched for opening week. The league’s social media platforms generated record engagement  with a 36% increase in video views and a 279% increase in minutes watched compared to last year.