April 17, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (5) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Following strong viewership for last week’s Play-In Tournament, the NBA Playoffs proper got off to an impressive start on ABC, ESPN, and TNT.

ESPN announced that the first weekend was the most-watched opening weekend ever of the NBA playoffs on Disney networks, which stretches back to 2003. The five game schedule averaged 4.28 million viewers, topping out with 6.257 million for Warriors-Kings on ABC Saturday. That game was up 38% from Warriors-Nuggets last year in the same timeslot.

Sunday’s Lakers-Grizzlies matchup on ABC averaged 5.544 million viewers. ESPN’s three games were topped by Knicks-Cavs on Saturday, averaging 3.908 million viewers. Hawks-Celtics followed with 2.926 million and Nets-76ers brought up the rear with 2.425 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2, which featured the Stephen A.’s World alternate broadcast (142,000 viewers).

Warner Bros. Discovery didn’t hit quite those highs for their Sunday tripleheader, but TNT still had their most-watched opening day of NBA Playoffs coverage since 2017.

The three games averaged 3.9 million viewers, led by Clippers-Suns with a healthy 5.035 million. Heat-Bucks ranked second with 4.083 million, and Timberwolves-Nuggets in the late window averaged 2.619 million viewers.

Overall, the eight games averaged 4.15 million viewers, good for the most-watched Opening Weekend of the NBA Playoffs in 12 years.

The NBA also touted strong usage and viewership of the NBA’s app and social media platforms.

It’s still (very) early, but this is clearly great news for the NBA. There are still plenty of games left to see if the league will carry that momentum through the rest of the playoffs, or if the strong stretch of viewership will peter out.

[ESPN, Showbuzz Daily]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.