ESPN’s family of networks generated strong ratings for its pair of high-profile NBA contests on the final night of the regular season Wednesday, though each clearly would have drawn even better if not up against the other.
According to Nielsen estimates, the Golden State Warriors’ victory over the Memphis Grizzlies to set the all-time NBA regular-season victory total averaged 3.65 million viewers on ESPN. At the same time on ESPN2, Kobe Bryant’s final game of a 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers (against the Utah Jazz) averaged 3.46 million viewers.
The Bryant farewell did better among younger viewers, with the Lakers game edging out the Warriors’ game, 1.7 to 1.6 in adults 18-49. It was even more lopsided among persons 12-34, where 1.8% of viewers in that age group watching Bryant’s final game and 1.5% of persons 12-34 watching the historic Warriors’ victory.
Wednesday’s season-enders put an exclamation point on a strong ratings finish to the regular season for the NBA, whose playoffs begin Saturday.
NBA TV’s coverage of the Golden State-San Antonio game on Sunday averaged 2.6 million viewers, easily surpassing the network’s all-time high set earlier this season for the same teams (1.4 million on Jan. 25). Overall, NBA TV averaged 176,000 viewers in primetime, its highest ever for a full regular season and a 14% increase over last year.
The league’s digital platforms also Digital delivered record-setting numbers. NBA League Pass, the NBA’s out-of-market subscription package, delivered a record 27 million video views and 1.2 billion total minutes viewed during the regular season, while globally NBA.com and the NBA App netted a record 9.1 billion video views (up 160% over last year) and three billion visits (a 27% year-over-year increase).