Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić is drawing international eyeballs for the NBA in his home country of Serbia as the Nuggets battle the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
NBA League Pass, the league’s streaming service, has had a 66% surge in year-over-year viewership among fans based in Serbia and 21% jump in annual subscriptions, the league said Tuesday.
TV viewership on Arena Sport TV, the NBA’s broadcast partner in Serbia, has skyrocketed 50% year over year. Jokić, a two-time MVP from Sombor, Serbia, has become the NBA’s top player for social media video views over the past 30 days with 316 million views of his highlights across NBA social channels.
U.S. viewership for this year’s NBA Finals on ABC and ESPN2 through two games has been about equal with last year’s Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, quieting concerns of the mid-sized Denver and Miami TV markets creating any sizable ratings slump.
The NBA will hope to replicate Jokić’s viewership effect on his hometown with its plethora of other international-born superstars, which next season will include French phenom Victor Wembanyama, the expected first-overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Draft later this month. Ticket sales for the Spurs have surged since they won the NBA Draft lottery.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which is tied 1-1, will be played tonight in Miami.