The new LeBron James era got off to a strong start Tuesday night as the Miami Heat-Boston Celtics game was cable’s most-watched regular season NBA game of all time.
Season opener for both teams drew 7.4 million viewers on TNT, topping the 1996 game between the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston’s win was the first game in a TNT doubleheader, with the two-time world champion Lakers slipping past the Houston Rockets in a second game that drew 3.7 million. Overall, it was the most-watched opening night NBA doubleheader in the 27 years that Turner cablers have carried pro basketball.
With all the hype James received in the off season after his move from Cleveland to Miami, the Heat will likely be one of the NBA’s biggest TV attractions this season.
TNT will telecast 52 regular season games this season, as well as the playoffs (including the Eastern Conference finals). ESPN also shares NBA rights and will televise the Heat’s home opener Friday night against the Orlando Magic.
Turner has been active in the sports world this month with Major League Baseball post-season. TBS drew 11.9 million for the sixth and deciding game in the American League Championship Series that sent the Texas Rangers to the World Series.