Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
NBA fans were highly invested in this year’s postseason.
According to NBA Communications, the 2022-23 playoffs were the most viewed in the past five years, averaging 5.47 million television viewers per game across the platforms of TNT, ESPN and ABC.
A number of factors likely contributed.
Major markets were well represented throughout the playoffs, with the Los Angeles Lakers reaching the Western Conference Finals and the Golden State Warriors making it to the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Lakers played in seven of the 10 most-viewed games of the playoffs prior to the NBA Finals, while the Warriors were in six. Four of the games in the playoff series contested between the teams pulled in top-10 viewership.
But other major markets were represented as well, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
A number of superstars were also present, including the MVP winners from the past 12 seasons (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić and Joel Embiid).
With smaller markets in Denver and Miami comprising the NBA Finals, however, the league’s championship series didn’t fare as well in the ratings department.
Overall, the series averaged 11.65 million viewers, which according to Anthony Crupi of Sportico made it the “fifth least-watched Finals of the modern Nielsen era, which kicked off with the introduction of the portable people meter in 1987. Disregarding the asterisk-laden 2020 and 2021 Finals series, Miami-Denver only managed to top the San Antonio Spurs’ sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 (9.29 million viewers) and the little-seen Spurs-New Jersey Nets pairing in 2003 (9.86 million).”
Denver’s title-winning performance in Game 5 drew 13.08 million viewers, however, making it the most-watched game of the 2022-23 season.
As Crupi noted, the smaller ratings weren’t a major surprise, as “the Denver DMA is home to 1.79 million TV households, while Miami is a bit smaller (1.72 million). Together, the two markets have 40 percent fewer TV homes than Los Angeles (5.84 million).”
Still, this year’s edition of the playoffs from start to finish had NBA fans parked on the couch in big numbers.