Any concerns about whether basketball fans would embrace the NBA after the lockout were dunked recently as the league’s cable media partners reported stellar viewership returns for the first week of the league’s truncated regular season.
The league’s 24-hour network NBA TV posted record breaking numbers during its first seven days of NBA regular-season coverage, which launched Christmas day. The network averaged 405,000 total viewers, up 120% from last season’s opening week.
The numbers were bolstered by a record 722,000 viewers who tuned into NBA TV on Dec. 30 to see D-Rose and the Chicago Bulls take on CP3 and the Los Angeles Clippers, according to league officials.
TNT drew 3.9 million total viewers for its Dec. 25-Dec. 30 five-game NBA schedule, a 127% increase from its opening week slate last season, said the “drama” network.
TNT’s Dec. 25 Boston Celtics-New York Knicks game drew a Christmas Day network record 5.9 million viewers, according to network executives.
Overall, the NBA reported that nearly 35 million people tuned in to watch the league’s five–game Christmas day slate of games on TNT, ABC and ESPN — the most watched Christmas for the league dating back to 2001 when Nielsen began charting unique viewership, according to the league.
The early audience results show that the NBA did not suffer a major fan backlash due to the 149-day lockout, which resulted in the current 66-game regular-season schedule.
The NBA may get another read on fan forgiveness beginning next week.
It’ll be interesting to see how many hard core hoop fans will dish out $169 for the NBA League Pass out-of-market package after its two-week free preview ends Sunday.
The league has added its League Pass mobile phone offering to the broadband and TV package of live NBA games, but some critics have complained that the league did not give enough of a discount as an incentive to buy given the loss of regular season games due to the lockout.