Even though the Golden State Warriors drive for 73 and Kobe Bryant’s last game were on opposite each other and aired late on the East Coast, they still drew viewers for the ESPN family of networks. The overnight numbers show that ESPN/ESPN2 ended up almost receiving the same rating for Memphis-Golden State which resulted in the Warriors’ record-breaking 73rd regular season win and Kobe Bryant closing out his career for the Los Angeles Lakers scoring 60 on the Utah Jazz.

As ESPN PR maven Ben Cafardo tweeted, the Warriors on ESPN received a 2.7 overnight rating which is the highest number for a non-Christnas regular season game. And Kobe’s finale on ESPN2 averaged a 2.6 overnight number, the highest-rated regular season game on the Deuce.

One other note, the Lakers scored for ESPN2, giving it the best rating ever for an NBA regular season game.

According to CNN media reporter Frank Pallotta, each game’s rating peaked at different times especially for Kobe’s finale:

The Warriors game peaked at a 3.1 overnight rating at 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. EST, which was roughly the second quarter of the game.
The Lakers game peaked at 3.5 between 1 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. which came towards the end of the game when Bryant pushed to 60 points.

As for the online audience, Watch ESPN saw 134,000 viewers per average minute for the Warriors and 111,000 for the Lakers. It goes to show that people will watch when there’s a record on the line or if one of the NBA’s top players in its history is retiring.

We know the games broke Twitter, so interest in the games was very high. Even with the Warriors edging out the Lakers in the overnights, there’s still a distinct possibility that the overall viewership will give Kobe the win when all of the final numbers are counted and released by Nielsen. If that happens, it could be due to the Warriors win was a blowout and people switched over to ESPN2 to see Kobe’s scoring spree to close out his career.

UPDATE: Here are the viewership numbers from our own Douglas Pucci:

[CNN Money]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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