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NBA In-Season Tournament final shatters viewership records


The National Basketball Association recently celebrated a resounding success with the inaugural In-Season Tournament, culminating in a championship game that captivated audiences and shattered viewership records.

The decider between Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers, aired on ABC and ESPN2, averaged 4.58 million viewers, marking it as the most-watched non-Christmas NBA game during the regular season on any network since February 2018.

The Lakers’ 123-109 victory over the Pacers to snare the silverware reached its pinnacle with a staggering 5.68 million viewers. This remarkable achievement is not only a testament to the excitement of the game but also signals a substantial increase in viewership. The average audience for the championship game saw a remarkable 46 percent surge compared to last year’s NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC season debut, showcasing the tournament’s undeniable appeal.

What’s even more impressive is the 64 percent increase in viewership from last season’s NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC average. The championship game, held on December 9, secured its position as the most-watched program in primetime and dominated across all key demographics.

Adding to the success story, the alternative broadcast, ‘NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart,’ made a popular debut, capturing nearly 10 percent of the overall audience. This innovative approach to presenting the game provided fans with a unique and entertaining perspective, contributing to the tournament’s overall success.

The pregame show, ‘NBA Countdown Presented by Door Dash,’ also experienced a surge in viewership, averaging 2.06 million viewers. This represents a 30 percent increase compared to the comparable window last year, further solidifying the tournament’s ability to draw in fans right from the beginning.

The context of these viewership numbers is crucial, considering this was the inaugural edition of the NBA In-Season Tournament. Designed to enhance the appeal of regular season games, the tournament has clearly struck a chord with basketball enthusiasts. The NBA’s move in creating this tournament appears to be paying off, particularly as the league prepares to negotiate its next domestic media rights contracts.

As the current deals with Disney and Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), valued at $24 billion, are set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 campaign, the league aims for a three-fold increase in its future contracts. The outstanding success of the In-Season Tournament provides the NBA with a compelling case as it approaches negotiations, showcasing the league’s ability to attract and retain a massive audience.

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