NBA Summer League Victor Wembanyama Jul 7, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama (1) shoots the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the second half at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Summer League is off to a white-hot start on ESPN platforms.

Per a release from the company, the Summer League’s first weekend averaged 456,000 viewers across 12 games. That’s the most-watched opening weekend for the NBA Summer League on ESPN’s platforms.

The schedule was led by Friday’s Spurs-Hornets game on ESPN, which featured Victor Wembanyama’s debut. Despite Wembanyama’s underwhelming performance on Friday, the game averaged 1.386 million viewers, per Sports Media Watch. That makes it the second most-watched Summer League game on record, behind just Zion Williamson’s debut for the Pelicans in 2019 against the Knicks (1.61 million viewers on ESPN).

Wembanyama’s second game, which aired at 8 PM ET on ESPN2 Sunday night, averaged 688,000 viewers. That was the third most-watched Summer League game of the week. Leading into Hornets-Spurs on Friday, Blazers-Rockets averaged 734,000 viewers on ESPN.

After record-setting viewership for the 2023 NBA Draft, we’re going to be looking at the Wembanyama effect for the upcoming NBA season. The Spurs weren’t a national TV fixture this past season, but with Wembanyama on the roster, they’ll be a more popular option. And that could result in a viewership increase.

[ESPN, Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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