The NBA heads into its postseason today with across-the-board ratings momentum from every corner — even China.
For the entire 2015-16 regular season, which wrapped Wednesday with a pair of ratings blockbusters, combined viewership for ABC, TNT and ESPN averaged 1.9 million viewers, up 8% from last season for the largest year-over-year growth in five years. Additionally, the league-owned NBA TV network averaged 345,000 for live games, up 19% from last year.
ABC presented the most-watched non-Christmas Day regular-season NBA game on any network since 2013 when the Feb. 27 contest between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder drew 5.32 million viewers. TNT televised its most-watched non-Christmas Day regular-season game in two year(non-Christmas Day) regular-season
ESPN had the most-watched non-Christmas Day regular-season game game on cable (3.65 million) on Wednesday when the Warriors set the NBA record for most wins in a season against the Memphis Grizzlies, making it the net’s biggest game in two years. And that same night, ESPN2 delivered its most-watched NBA game ever when it televised the final game of Kobe Bryant’s 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers (3.46 million).
The last day of the NBA regular season generated more than 100 million video views across the league’s social media platforms — an all-time record for a regular-season day. Bryant’s final game garnered the most tweets of any game during the season, and overall the day garnered a record 400,000 re-tweets.
Meanwhile, in China, Kobe Bryant’s final game became the most-watched game in history on digital platforms (online and mobile). The Lakers-Jazz contest, in which the 20-year vet called it a career by scoring 60 points, delivered 38.9 million video streams and 11 million live viewers on Tencent; this more than doubled the previous high of live viewers set with Game 7 of the NBA Finals between Miami and San Antonio.
Back home, the NBA Playoffs begin today with four first-round games, including the defending champion Warriors playing host to the Grizzlies on ABC. ESPN has the other three games today, while TNT gets into the act on Sunday with a triple-header of action.