Wednesday September 27, 2023

NBA Play-In Tournament Draws Strong TV Audiences

  • Lakers-Timberwolves pull the 2nd-largest audience in the history of the tournament.
  • ESPN’s doubleheader is up 14% from last year.
Anthony Davis
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The NBA Play-In tournament is generating a nice TV ratings bump at the end of the 2022-2023 regular season.

ESPN’s play-In doubleheader Wednesday night averaged 2.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2. That was up 14% from the comparable play-in games last season.

The Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors averaged 2,335,000 viewers, up 10% from last year‘s game.

ESPN2’s alternate telecast, “NBA in Stephen A’s World,” drew 152,000 viewers or 7% of the total audience.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans averaged 2,858,000 viewers, up 17% from last year. 

It ranked as the most-watched 9-seed vs. 10-seed game since the tournament began in 2021.

NBA Votes To Make Playoff Play-In Tournament Permanent

This season’s Clippers-Timberwolves play-in matchup was one of the most watched games…
July 12, 2022

On Tuesday. TNT’s telecast of the Los Angeles Lakers-Minnesota Timberwolves averaged 3.47 million, according to Sports Media Watch.

The game pulled the second-largest TV audience in the tournament’s three-year history. The Lakers’ overtime win was up 29% from the comparable game last season. 

Overall, this year’s Play-In Tournament delivered four of the league’s ten biggest audiences on cable TV this season. This year’s tournament concludes Friday night, with TNT’s telecast of Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat (7 p.m. ET) and ESPN’s broadcast of Oklahoma City Thunder-Timberwolves (9:30 p.m. ET).

The first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs tip off Saturday, April 15, with four games on ESPN and sister Disney broadcast network ABC.

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