Ratings Roundup: NBA Playoff Opening Weekend Has Highest Viewership in 12 Years

Ratings Roundup is a rundown of recent rating news and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Stanley Cup Playoff viewership has double digit increases; NBA has a record-breaking season across social and digital platforms.

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN: Islanders-Hurricanes and Kings-Oilers Game 5s Deliver Strong Viewership

  • New York Islanders – Carolina Game 5 averaged 933k total viewers (peaking at 1.3M) and 425k P18-49 viewers, up 13% and 22% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Boston-Carolina – Game 5)
  • Los Angeles – Edmonton Game 5 Averaged 695K total viewers ( peaking at 864K) and 370K P18-49 viewers, up 6% and 12% vs, the comparable game in 2022 (St. Louis-Minnesota – Game 5)
  • Through 18 playoff games, the first round on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 is averaging 745K total viewers and 334K P18-49 viewer, up 15% and 12% vs. the first 18 games last year

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN: Devils-Rangers Game 3 Averaged 1.6M Total Viewers

  • New Jersey – New York Rangers Game 3 on ABC averaged 1.6M total viewers (peaking at 2.2M) and 571K P18-49 viewers
  • It is the most-viewed Game 3 of a First Round NHL Playoff series since 2018
  • Through 14 playoff games, the first round on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC is averaging 745K total viewers and 342K P18-49 viewers, up 18% and 13% vs. ESPN platforms’ first 14 playoff games last year

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN: Viewership Continues With Double-Digit Increases

  • Across Wednesday’s four Game 2s, ESPN/ESPN2 averaged 684K total viewers and 286K P18-49 viewers, up 27% and 14% respectively vs. comparable First Round Game 2s last year
    • Florida-Boston averaged 909K total viewers and 342K P18-49 viewers, up 24% and 5% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Boston-Carolina – Game 2)
    • NY Islanders-Carolina averaged 649K total viewers and 248K P18-49 viewers, up 31% and 16% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Tampa Bay-Toronto – Game 2)
    • Minnesota-Dallas averaged 527K total viewers and 260K P18-49 viewers, up 41% and 34% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Los Angeles-Edmonton – Game 2)
    • Los Angeles-Edmonton averaged 595K total viewers and 289K P18-49 viewers, up 12% and 10% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (St. Louis-Minnesota – Game 2)
  • Through 11 Playoff games, ESPN/ESPN2 is averaging 647K total viewers and 289K P18-49 viewers, up 10% and 9% vs. the first three days last year

First Night of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs Delivered Double-Digit Increases on ESPN and ESPN2

  • Across four games, ESPN/ESPN2 averaged 672K total viewers and 314K P18 – 49 viewers, up 17% and 25% respectively vs. ESPN/ESPN2’s opening First Round games last year
  • Florida-Boston Game 1 averaged 1.1M total viewers (peaking at 1.3M) and 486K P18-49 viewers, up 25% and 30% versus the comparable game in 2022 (Boston-Carolina – Game 1)
    • This is the most-viewed Game 1 of a First Round NHL Playoff series ever on cable

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup Playoff Series Delivers Strong Viewership on ESPN and ABC

The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoff first round series between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils delivered strong viewership for Games 3 and 4 on ESPN/ABC.

ABC’s broadcast of Game 3 this past Saturday averaged 1.6 million total viewers (peaking at 2.2 million) and 571,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic. It is now the most-viewed Game 3 of a first round NHL Playoff series since 2018.

ESPN’s presentation of Game 4 on Monday night averaged 1.04 million total viewers (peaking at 1.5 million) and 466,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, an increase of 14% and 16% over the comparable game in 2022 (NYR-PIT – Game 4).

Through 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games, the first round on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC is averaging 746,000 total viewers and 327,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, an increase of 16% and 11% versus the first 16 playoff games last year.

With the series tied 2-2, Rangers-Devils playoff action continues this week with Game 5 on Thursday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The Battle of the Hudson returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday, April 29, for Game 6 in a primetime matchup on ABC at 8 p.m. ET (simulcast on ESPN+).

2022-23 Boston Bruins Season on NESN Hits Highest Household Impressions Since 2014-15 and Sets NESN 360 Streaming Records

NESN’s coverage of the  2022-23 Boston Bruins season experienced the highest average Household (HH) viewership since the 2014-15 season, with an average HH impression of 97,120. The average HH impression marks a 49 percent increase over the 2021-22 season. With one day left in the regular season, the Bruins are on pace to have the highest average HH impression in the NHL.

NESN grew key demographics in 69 total games, including:

  • The Women 25-54 (W25-54) demographic grew 66% versus last season
  • The Adult 25-54 (A25-54) demographic grew 30% versus last season
  • The Adult 18-34 (A18-34) demographic grew 29% versus last season

Tuesday, April 11, marked NESN’s largest streaming audience on NESN 360 to date, as the Bruins beat the NHL points record, defeating the Washington Capitals. The game broadcast was also NESN’s highest viewed matchup of the 2022-23 season. The game earned a 5.62 HH rating and nearly 146,000 HH impressions, marking NESN’s most viewed Bruins game since 2017-18.

Over 1.1 million Bostonians watched Boston Bruins hockey on NESN this season.

Streaming viewership on NESN 360, inclusive of TVE and direct subscribers, also experienced significant growth throughout the season. Average viewers per Bruins game more than doubled since October and average total minutes streamed per Bruins game increased 46% from January to April.

Florida Panthers vs Boston Bruins Game 5 on ESPN is Most-Viewed First Round NHL Playoff Game Ever on Cable, Excluding Game 7s

ESPN’s doubleheader began with the Panthers staving off playoff elimination by the Bruins with Game 5 averaging 1.5 million total viewers (peaking at 2.1 million) and 654,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, an increase of 40% and 58% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Penguins-Rangers – Game 5). Excluding Game 7s, it is now the most-viewed First Round NHL Playoff game ever on cable.

The Kraken took a 3-2 lead over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Avalanche, averaging 1.1 million total viewers (peaking at 1.4 million) and 548,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, an increase of 64% and 57% vs. the comparable game in 2022 (Stars-Flames – Game 5). This is the second most-viewed Game 5 of a First Round NHL Playoff series on cable since 1997 and the most watched late-window game of the First Round, excluding Game 7s, ever on cable.

Through 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, the first round on ESPN/ESPN2/ABC is averaging 808,000 total viewers and 360,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, an increase of 24% and 23% vs. last year’s Games 1-5.

NBA Delivers Record-Breaking Season Across Social and Digital Platforms

Driven by its multi-platform digital strategy, the NBA finished the 2022-23 regular season with record-breaking engagement across the NBA App, NBA League Pass and NBA social media accounts. Notably, @NBA on Instagram generated more than 13 billion video views this season, the most of any account on the platform. The league also amassed a record 32 billion video views across all NBA and NBA-related social media accounts, up more than 10% year-over-year, spurred by growth among young and international followers.

Additional consumption highlights from NBA social media, the NBA App and NBA League Pass include:

NBA Social Media

@NBA generated a record 18 billion views across social media platforms this season, the most among all sports leagues. The growth was led by the addition of 14 million new followers, largely from outside the U.S. International followers make up more than 70% of the NBA’s social media following, with 50 percent of the total audience comprised of people age 25 or younger. NBA social media milestones this season include:

YouTube: The NBA’s YouTube channel became the first professional sports league account to surpass 20 million subscribers and 12 billion lifetime video views on the platform. Every 90 days, the NBA reached more than 75 million unique viewers on YouTube who, on average, watched more than 35 minutes of content on the channel.

Instagram: With 78 million Instagram followers, the NBA is the 8th most-followed brand on the platform.

Five of the 10 most-viewed players on NBA social this season are age 26 or younger. The top 10 also includes five international players:

  • LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers; U.S.): 1.3 billion
  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors; U.S.): 881 million
  • Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks; Slovenia): 736 million
  • Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.): 653 million
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; ties to Nigeria): 522 million
  • Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics; U.S.): 496 million
  • Kyrie Irving (Dallas Mavericks; Australia): 374 million
  • Victor Wembanyama (2023 Draft Prospect; France): 350 million
  • Jordan Poole (Golden State Warriors; U.S.): 293 million
  • Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia): 253 million

With a global fanbase that includes top celebrities from around the world, the NBA’s announcement naming South Korean rapper, songwriter, producer and BTS star SUGA an NBA Ambassador generated the second-most liked NBA Instagram post (4.6 million likes) and second-most retweeted NBA tweet (118K retweets) of all time.

NBA Digital Platforms

The reimagined NBA App, which launched in September 2022, generated more than one billion video views this season, more than triple last year’s total. The growth was driven by the integration of social media-inspired vertical video content, attracting a younger audience that drove consumption of new series and programming, including “Pass the Rock” – an original series featuring the league’s rising stars – and live streams of Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 games starring 2023 NBA Draft prospect Victor Wembanyama. The NBA App – a product of NBA Digital, the league’s joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports – is free to download.

NBA ID, the league’s new global membership program offering fans benefits and rewards, drove a 40% increase in NBA App downloads. With the launch of new alternative game telecasts such as “Throw it Down with Bill Walton,” and original live programming such as NBA CrunchTime, NBA League Pass saw a 50% growth in subscribers and a 48% increase in viewership this season.

2023 NBA Playoffs Delivers Most Viewed Opening Weekend Ever

  • This years NBA Playoffs was the most viewed opening weekend in 12 years with 4.15M average viewers.
  • It was also the most viewed opening weekend ever on NBA App, NBA Social and NBA League Pass

Most-Watched NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend Ever on Disney Platforms

The opening weekend of the 2023 NBA Playoffs was the most-watched ever on Disney platforms, according to Nielsen. The five-game slate – two games on ABC and three games on ESPN – averaged 4,280,000 viewers, up three percent from last year, setting the combined ABC and ESPN opening weekend audience record. ESPN and ABC have televised the NBA Playoffs since the 2002-03 season.

The Sacramento Kings victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 averaged 6,257,000 viewers, making it the most-watched opening Saturday night playoff game ever on ABC. It peaked with 7,562,000 viewers from 11-11:15 p.m. ET. It was up 38 percent vs. last year’s comparable game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets. Warriors vs. Kings Game 1 was the most-watched program of the day across all of television and in all key demos.

The Warriors vs. Kings game generated a 14.1 rating in the Sacramento market, making it the highest-rated Kings game on ABC or ESPN since 2004.

ABC’s two opening weekend games averaged 5,911,000 viewers, up three percent from last year. Game 1 of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies series on Sunday averaged 5,544,000 viewers, peaking with 7,494,000 viewers from 5:15-5:30 p.m.

ESPN averaged 3,107,000 viewers for its three-game opening weekend slate, up one percent from last year. The New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Game 1 led the way with 3,908,000 viewers, up nine percent from last year’s comparable game (Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors). It was the most-watched program of the day across cable in viewership and in all key demos on Saturday. The ESPN three-game average also includes ESPN2’s NBA in Stephen A’s World alternate presentation for the Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers game.

NBA Countdown: Best Full-Season Viewership in Five Years

  • Across the regular seasons, NBA Countdown on ESPN:
    • Averaged 561,000 viewers and 264,000 P18-49
    • Up 3% and 8% from 2021-2022
    • Best full-season average since 2018-2019

Warriors Lead NBA In Local TV Ratings During 2022-23 Regular Season

For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the 2022 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors led the NBA in local TV ratings, it was announced today. The Warriors’ broadcasts on NBC Sports Bay Area, featuring Emmy award-winning play-by-play broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald and analyst Kelenna Azubuike, averaged a 5.10 household rating this season in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose DMA, according to data provided by Nielsen.

The team’s most-watched single game on NBC Sports Bay Area this season came on Sunday, March 26 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which averaged a 7.28 household rating.

Golden State finished the 2022-23 campaign with a record of 44-38 (.537), earning the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The 2023 NBA Playoffs appearance marks the team’s ninth trip to the postseason in the last 11 years and 37th in franchise history.

The Warriors will match up with the third-seed Sacramento Kings in the First Round. ABC will have exclusive national television coverage of Saturday’s Game 1 of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs, which is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. PDT tipoff in Sacramento, in addition to Game 4, slated for 12:30 p.m. PDT on Sunday, April 23 in San Francisco. NBC Sports Bay Area will televise Games 2 and 3 of the First Round. TV listings for Games 5 through 7, if necessary, will be announced at a later date.

The organization’s 2023 NBA Playoffs appearance marks the second consecutive berth for the Warriors following last season’s NBA championship campaign, which saw the team earn its fourth NBA title in a span of the last eight seasons. Golden State previously recorded a franchise-record seven consecutive playoff berths from 2013-19, a stretch that included five-straight NBA Finals appearances and three NBA championships (2015, 2017, 2018). Over their last eight postseason appearances, the Warriors own a playoff record of 102-44 (.699), the most wins over a span of eight playoff appearances in NBA history.

The 2023 AT&T NBA Play-In Tournament Delivered Viewership Increases Across TNT and ESPN.

  • Viewership was up 5% year over year, with 2.64M average viewers across TNT and ESPN
  • +63% year over year, with 441M video views across all social platforms and the NBA app. 70% from outside the US

Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors Game 4 on ABC Draws Largest NBA Playoffs First Round Audience Across Any Network in 21 Years 

ABC’s broadcast of the Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors Game 4 delivered the largest NBA Playoffs first round audience across any network in 21 years, according to Nielsen. The broadcast averaged 7,523,000 viewers, peaking with 10,406,000 viewers during the 6 p.m. ET quarter hour.

The ABC game was the most-watched program across all of television on Sunday, including in all key demographics. It was the most-watched first round NBA Playoffs game since April 28, 2002, when the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers squared off with the Portland Trail Blazers (8,555,000 viewers).

International Friendly USA Vs Mexico Ranks As Highest Rated Sporting Event In 2023 On Spanish-Language Television

Telemundo, the exclusive Spanish-language home of the U.S. National Teams, reports that Wednesday’s match between international soccer rivals USA and Mexico averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.75 million viewers across all platforms including Telemundo, Universo, Peacock, TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo app. The highly anticipated match delivered an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 171,000 viewers across Peacock and Telemundo’s digital streaming platforms.

The game between the biggest rivals in Mexican soccer tied 1-1 and was simulcast on Telemundo and Universo averaging 1.52 million viewers and 795,000 adults 18-49 during the match window, ranking as the #1 sporting event across Spanish-language television since FIFA World Cup 2022.

Locally, the game ranked #1 total day regardless of language in Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix and Sacramento among A18-49. Additionally, the game ranked #1 in its time slot regardless of language in New York, Miami, Dallas, and Chicago.

USFL Scores Strong TV Ratings in Week 1

Kicking off the USFL’s second season from Memphis and Birmingham, the USFL scored strong Week 1 viewership across FOX, NBC and FS1 – a +4% increase over Season 1, with an average of 784,000 viewers tuning in.

2023 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship Breaks Million Viewership Mark – Becomes Most-Watched Live College Gymnastics Telecast Ever on ESPN Platforms

  • 2023 NCAA Championship Final is the most-watched live college gymnastics telecast ever on ESPN platforms and the most watched on any network since 2007
  • The 2023 NCAA Championship Final peaked with 1.32M viewers from 5:30-5:45 PM ET
  • The 2023 NCAA Semifinals were the most watched on ESPN platforms since 2017
  • 1.02M viewers of the Championship, up 10% over 2022
  • 148,000 viewers of the Semifinals, up 46% over 2022

FOX Scores Big with NASCAR from Talladega

Password must contain the following:

A lowercase letter

A capital (uppercase) letter

A number

Minimum 8 characters