LeBron James against the Clippers on NBA Opening Night 2020.

While the NBA’s 2020-21 regular season is starting months later than normal thanks to the COVID-19 pause earlier this year and the October finish to the 2019-20 season (which came with much lower Finals ratings than normal), its first night Tuesday drew some impressive ratings for TNT. Here’s the release Turner Sports put out:

One important note here is that 2019’s Opening Night was not as advantageous for TNT in terms of local TV markets, especially with the Toronto Raptors (no local U.S. market) – New Orleans Pelicans (50th in Nielsen’s U.S. designated market areas) opening game. Nets (#1) versus Warriors (#6) is much better on that front. It did also feature Clippers-Lakers (both in the #2 DMA), though, so it’s comparable on that level.

Meanwhile, this summer’s July 30 restart saw the Utah Jazz (#30) facing the Pelicans, then Clippers-Lakers, and the 2018 Opening Night saw the Boston Celtics (#9) facing the Philadelphia 76ers (#4), then the Oklahoma City Thunder (#43) against the Warriors. The 2017 Opening Night, the last one to beat these numbers, saw the Cleveland Cavaliers (#19) against the Celtics, then the Warriors against the Houston Rockets (#8). So having strong local markets on Opening Night definitely helped TNT this year. We’ll see how the ratings go for them as the season progresses.

[Turner Sports PR; photo from Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.