This year’s NBA Draft really didn’t have the national hype and anticipation of other big drafts in recent years.  There was no surefire franchise like LeBron James, no global icon like Yao Ming, and no real drama or uncertainty with the top selection.  With so many freshman and international players going in the Top 10, there weren’t many deep allegiances to the players being selected either.

However, that didn’t stop the 2015 NBA Draft from becoming the most watched in history for ESPN.

The 2015 NBA Draft led by Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and the rapping Latvian dude the Knicks picked scored big for ESPN.  The telecast averaged 3.7 million viewers and a 2.4 rating, both record numbers for ESPN.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the draft peaked early on in the evening during the lottery at 8 PM ET:

The 2015 NBA Draft was the most-watched Draft telecast in history, according to Nielsen. Thursday’s event on ESPN averaged 3,738,000 viewers (P2+), up eight percent from the 2014 NBA Draft. The telecast peaked with 5,131,000 viewers from 8-8:15 p.m. ET

The 2015 NBA Draft was also the highest-rated ever on ESPN, averaging a 2.4 U.S. household rating. This is up four percent from last year’s event. The telecast peaked from 8-8:15 p.m. with a 3.3 rating.

Last night’s NBA Draft telecast also propelled ESPN to win the night across all of television (broadcast and cable) in several key demos, including P18-34, M18-34, P18-49, M18-49 and M25-54.

The NFL Draft has been a cultural event for a long time, gaining higher viewership numbers than many live sporting events.  These great numbers for the NBA might be a sign that the NBA Draft is slowly reaching that “event” status on its own merits – that it doesn’t matter who is being drafted or where, that the draft itself is the major selling point.  Of course, one could imagine that having premier big-market franchises like the Lakers and Knicks picking in the Top 5 couldn’t hurt the ratings either.


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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