Apr 12, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives to the net against Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby (3) during the first half of a NBA Play-In game at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

With four of the NBA’s six play-in tournament games in the books, viewership has increased in three of the four windows.

On Tuesday night, Hawks-Heat averaged 2.245 million viewers on TNT, followed by 3.474 million viewers for Timberwolves-Lakers.

On Wednesday night, Bulls-Raptors averaged 2.335 million (which includes 152,000 for the Stephen A’s World broadcast on ESPN2) viewers, and Thunder-Pelicans averaged 2.858 million viewers on ESPN.

Compared to the play-in tournaments in 2021 and 2022, viewership is mostly up.

In 2021, the two TNT games averaged 1.39 million (Hornets-Pacers) and 2.50 million viewers (Wizards-Celtics). The two ESPN games averaged 2.29 million (Spurs-Grizzlies) and a whopping 5.62 million (Warriors-Lakers).

In 2022, the two TNT games averaged 2.48 million (Cavs-Nets) and 2.70 million (Clippers-Timberwolves). The two ESPN games averaged 2.11 million (Hornets-Hawks) and 2.44 million (Spurs-Pelicans).

So in other words, 2023’s early TNT game ranked second of three early TNT games, and the late game was the most-watched of the network’s late play-in games. 2023’s early ESPN game was the most-watched for the network in the early window, while the late game ranked second of three. Three of the four games this year were up from the comparable window in 2022, and three of the four were also up from the complimentary window in 2021.

I’m not going to draw too many conclusions here, since viewership for the play-in games is still a somewhat small sample and ebbs and flows with both the teams involved and the quality of the games. This year’s games avoided blowouts like we saw in both 2021 and 2022 (not coincidentally, the two least-watched of all the play-in games), which definitely helps the overall viewership.

The play-in tournaments conclude on Friday night with Bulls-Heat at 7 PM ET on TNT and Thunders-Timberwolves at 9:30 PM ET on ESPN.

[Data via ShowBuzz Daily]

About Joe Lucia

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