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What Is The Most Watched NBA All-Star Game of All Time?

  • The annual mid-February showcase is considered the crown jewel event for the Association.
  • Over the years, ratings have dropped considerably, and eight of the top 10 were in the 1990s.
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James at 2013 NBA All Star Game.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA All-Star Game, which annually showcases the global game for three days in mid-February, is considered the crown jewel event for the Association.

Michael Jordan. Larry Bird. Magic Johnson. LeBron James. Kobe Bryant.

Over the years, these players and many others have shown off their talent during the weekend events, which conclude in an exhibition basketball game.

The game has evolved over the years, including a format change: The 2017 New Orleans game was the last to feature Eastern vs. Western Conference All-Stars. Beginning in 2018 in Los Angeles, the top two vote-getters were elected captains and drafted their teams.

If viewership was considered the barometer of success for the event, then the 1990s should be regarded as the Golden Age: Eight of the top 10 games were played in the 1990s.

Maybe NBC, which broadcast those eight games, is looking at that data; recent news suggests the network may want to return to the NBA business.

The most-viewed All-Star Game was in 1993 in Salt Lake City, which amassed 22.91 million viewers on NBC. That game featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and hosts Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Over the years, ratings have dropped considerably. The last time an All-Star Game surpassed 10 million viewers was the 2003 game in Atlanta in TNT’s debut broadcast. The highest since then was the 2011 Game in Las Angeles, where TNT garnered just over 9 million viewers.

Can this year’s All-Star Game in Salt Lake City recapture the magic from 30 years ago? The trends say no, although the 2022 Cleveland All-Star Game saw a slight increase to 6.28 million over the 2021 Atlanta Game, which had 5.94 million.

Top Most Viewed All-Star Games

1993Salt Lake CityNBC22.914 million
1992OrlandoNBC18.828 million
1996San AntonioNBC17.459 million
1998New YorkNBC16.931 million
1997ClevelandNBC16.903 million
1995PhoenixNBC15.775 million
1994MinneapolisNBC13.670 million
1990MiamiCBS13.200 million
2002PhiladelphiaNBC13.103 million
2003AtlantaTNT10.829 million
Nielson Ratings
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