• Loading stock data...
Sunday, July 14, 2024

‘WembyMania’ Pulls 2nd Most-Watched Summer League Telecast

  • Victor Wembanyama’s Summer League debut draws 1.39M viewers.
  • Ranks second only to Zion Williamson's debut in 2019.
Victor Wembanyama
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

No wonder the NBA and its national TV partners are salivating over potential TV ratings for Victor Wembanyama.

The young San Antonio Spurs rookie’s debut garnered the second-biggest television audience ever for a Summer League game on Friday night.

ESPN’s coverage of Wembanyama’s game against the Charlotte Hornets in Las Vegas averaged 1,386,000 viewers, peaking at 1,632,000.

That ranks second only to the 1,641,000 viewers for Zion Williamson’s Summer League debut in 2019. 

But Williamson had a year of U.S. media hype under his belt after his freshman year at Duke University. 

The 19-year Wembanyama, on the other hand, spent last year playing in France before being selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Wembanyama helped drive the most-watched opening weekend ever for the NBA Summer League, with the 12 games averaging 456,000 viewers across ESPN platforms.

The rise of Wembanyama comes at the right time for the NBA. 

American stars such as LeBron James and Steph Curry are entering the twilight of their careers.

The increasingly global league (think Serbian NBA champion Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets) is poised to tip off billion-dollar media rights negotiations with The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery Sports’ TNT.

If those two incumbent media partners can’t renew their deal during an exclusive negotiating period, then Commissioner Adam Silver’s NBA could throw open the bidding to deep-pocketed tech giants like Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Google/YouTube. 

Either way, expect the NBA to split off a separate streaming package ala the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” deal with Amazon.

Just like the rise of Houston Rockets center Yao Ming helped open the Chinese market to the NBA, Wembanyama could help popularize pro hoops in France, a country of 68 million people.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Jan 7, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium.

Without Hard-Line Bans, Pro Athletes and Personnel Will Keep Betting on Sports

Penalties often aren’t stringent or consistent enough to deter banned behavior.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services on Monday sued retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre along with several other people and businesses to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S.

Judge in Mississippi Welfare Case Boots Brett Favre’s Lead Lawyer

The judge wrote he had a ‘pattern and practice of delicate deception.’
Apr 12, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen (8) and guard Devin Booker (1) and guard Bradley Beal (3) and forward Royce O'Neale (00) and forward Kevin Durant (35) huddle up before the final seconds of the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center.

The Suns Have Entered the NBA’s Uncharted, Punitive Territory

The NBA’s first $400 million team between payroll and projected luxury tax.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Warner Bros. Discovery Faces Final Decision on NBA Rights


Featured Today

Oct 2, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goddell speaks during the Don Shula Celebration of Life at Hard Rock Stadium.

The NFL Is Confident It Can Overturn the Sunday Ticket Verdict

The league may have good reason to believe it can win.
July 8, 2024

NFLPA Report Cards Have Become the ‘Talk of the Locker Room’ Across..

NFLPA report cards have become the ‘talk of the locker room.’
July 7, 2024

The New College Sports Insiders Are Graphic Designers

Joe Tipton and Hayes Fawcett have become premier news-breakers on social media.
Oct 27, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; A general of the Sacramento Kings logo on the court before the game against the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center.
July 6, 2024

How Sports Went From Private Equity Punchline to Coveted Asset Class

Once an industry punchline, sports are now a coveted asset class.
July 10, 2024

‘Where’s truTV?’ March Madness Channel Is Now TNT Sports’ New Star

Warner Bros. Discovery will make its sports emphasis on truTV ‘even more pronounced and consistent.’
July 11, 2024

Will They or Won’t They? TNT Must Match Bids or Say Goodbye to NBA

A spurned media partner has sued the league before.

TopSpin 2K25 Brings the Legends of Tennis to Your Living Room

2K sports is reviving a classic with TopSpin 2K25.
July 10, 2024

NBA Agrees to $76 Billion in Media-Rights Deals, but TNT Still Looms

Welcome back, ‘Roundball Rock.’ Farewell, ‘Inside the NBA’?
Stadium with NFL logo at the mid-field line
July 10, 2024

‘Nonsensical’: NFL Blasts Massive Jury Award in Latest Sunday Ticket Case Filings

The league asked for a new trial and called the damages ‘indefensible.’
May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Referee Kenny Bayless (center) separates Manny Pacquiao (left) from Floyd Mayweather during their boxing bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
July 9, 2024

The Most Watched Boxing Matches Ever

The most-watched boxing match was the 2015 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao which drew 4.6 million PPV buys.
July 8, 2024

Fox Sports Is Winning Its Bet on Soccer Media-Rights Deals

The network has media rights to Copa América and Euro 2024.