The first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs is in the books, and the league has set a variety of multi-year highs.
Overall, the round averaged 3.4 million viewers across ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV. That’s up 15% from last year’s first round, and is the NBA’s most-watched first round in nine years.
? Game 7 of the GSW vs. SAC series on ABC – most-watched first round game in 24 years: 9.8M viewers
? First round games across ABC, ESPN, TNT & NBA TV is the most watched in 9 years: 3.4M viewers
? Won the night across all of TV among viewers under 50 on 13 out of 14 nights pic.twitter.com/mJRAqDb35h
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 2, 2023
Sunday’s Game 7 between the Warriors and Kings also carried a lot of freight for the league. That game averaged a stunning 9.8 million viewers, good for the most-watched first round game in 24 years (Kings-Jazz Game 5 in 1999 averaged 11.21 million on NBC, per Sports Media Watch). Additionally, that’s the most-watched audience for a non-Finals ABC NBA playoff game.
The Kings-Warriors series also drove Disney to an average first round audience of 4.5 million viewers, the company’s most-watched first round ever.
?Game 7 averaged 9,835,000 viewers, peaking w/ 11,929,000 viewers at 6PM.
?It was the most-watched first round ever on Disney platforms. pic.twitter.com/0BKphWUuNs
— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) May 2, 2023
TNT averaged 3.5 million viewers for their first round games, their most-watched first round in five years.
TNT scores most-watched first round NBA Playoffs coverage in five years pic.twitter.com/KCfFymjpl2
— Warner Bros. Discovery Sports U.S. PR (@WBDSportsPR) May 1, 2023
Earlier Tuesday, Warner Bros. Discovery announced record viewership for the first round of the NHL playoffs, averaging 959,000 viewers across TBS and TNT. That’s the most-watched first round on cable ever.
Ultimately for the NBA, this is a white hot start that the league will look to maintain throughout the rest of the playoffs. The Lakers-Warriors series, which begins Tuesday on TNT, could be the one that drives the highest viewership in the second round, especially with Game 3 in primetime on ABC Saturday. But both matchups in the East, Heat-Knicks and 76ers-Celtics, probably shouldn’t be discounted either.