NBA Play-In Tournament Apr 17, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) during the second quarter of a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Play-In Tournament this week reached an impressive mark, just as TNT Sports’ coverage did.

The two games airing on Wednesday were the two most-watched Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament games ever.

In the early window, Heat-76ers averaged 3.403 million viewers, the most-watched Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament game ever and a 52% spike from last year’s comparable game on TNT.

In the late window, Hawks-Bulls ranked just behind with 3.071 million viewers, a 31% increase from the comparable game a year ago on TNT and the second most-watched Eastern Conference Play-In game ever.

On Tuesday, TNT Sports’ coverage of the two Western Conference Play-In games also drew strong viewership. The two games ranked as the second and third most-watched Play-In games ever.

The four Play-In Tournament games rank in the NBA’s top ten audiences of the season, per Sports Media Watch. The games ranking ahead of them were either on ABC or were the NBA’s two All-Star Weekend events on TNT.

Like the In-Season Tournament, the Play-In Tournament can be criticized as a bit gimmicky. However, there’s been fan excitement for both tournaments this year, and we’re seeing that excitement in the strong viewership for both. While all four Play-In games to date rank in the league’s ten most-watched games of the year, the In-Season Tournament final ranked third, behind just the All-Star Game and Celtics-Lakers on Christmas Day. Viewership for the early rounds of the In-Season Tournament also increased compared to regular-season games in the same windows a year ago.

The In-Season Tournament concludes on Friday with Bulls-Heat at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and Kings-Pelicans at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT.


About Joe Lucia

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