NEW YORK — NBA viewers watched 81.5 million hours of live games on ABC, ESPN and TNT in the opening week of the season, up 95% from opening week in 2019.
In terms of total hours, this season’s opening week was the most viewed since 2011, the league said Wednesday. That also was the last time the NBA season opened during the week of Christmas; it was on Dec. 25 that year and Dec. 22 this year.
The NBA season typically opens in October. The start of this season was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, whereas there was a labor dispute in 2011.
Games shown on ESPN on Christmas Day — New Orleans against Miami and the LA Clippers against Denver — were up 10% in average viewers (2.83 million) over the games shown in comparable windows on Christmas last season.
Opening week of the NBA was also a huge hit on social media. The NBA saw a 36% increase in video views and a 279% increase in minutes watched in this year’s opening week compared with opening week in 2019.
The NBA said opening week this year was the most-watched week in the 15-year history of its YouTube account and that the league’s account was the most-watched on Instagram last week.