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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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NBA Draft on ABC, ESPN Sets New Viewership Record

  • This year’s draft was the most-watched NBA Draft ever with 4.9 million average first-round viewers.
  • First-round viewership was up 24% over last year, and up 23% across both rounds.
Viewership peaked at 6 million viewers.
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday’s NBA Draft on ABC and ESPN was the most-watched NBA draft ever, with an average of 4.9 million viewers for the first round. Viewership peaked at 6 million viewers around 8 p.m. ET, when the San Antonio Spurs selected generational prospect Victor Wembanyama with the first pick. 

This year’s edition was the third NBA Draft to air separate broadcasts on ABC and ESPN since Disney started doing so in 2021. First-round viewership for last week’s draft was up 24% over last year’s first round, which averaged 3.98 million viewers and peaked at 4.5 million.

Overall, the NBA Draft averaged 3.7 million viewers across ESPN (both rounds) and ABC (first round only). The average audience was up 23% from last year.

ABC’s broadcast of the draft leaned into background storytelling of players, including Webanyama’s pre-recorded sitdown interview with “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts. The french phenom has helped spike fan interest in the Spurs, who have sold more than 4,000 new season ticket memberships since winning the NBA Draft lottery. 

This year’s draft also showcased the success of alternate paths to the NBA for prospects who skipped college. Scoot Henderson was drafted third overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, becoming the fifth player from the NBA G League Ignite developmental team to be picked in the first round since 2020. Player salaries for the Ignite can reach $500,000.

Overtime Elite, the pro basketball league for players aged 16 to 20, saw its standout twin brothers Amen and Ausar Thompson drafted back-to-back with the fourth (Houston Rockets) and fifth (Detroit Pistons) overall picks.

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