NBA and NHL Playoffs Drawing Prime-Time Viewers

The return of the NBA has been a viewership hit among 18- to 49-year-olds

NBA and NHL Playoffs Drawing Prime-Time Viewers
Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores a goal against the New York Islanders.
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Though there have been reports to the contrary, the NBA is drawing more prime-time viewers since its July 30 restart than it did before suspending its season on March 11 due to the coronavirus, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The NBA is drawing a roughly 80 percent larger prime-time audience since its July restart, and viewership of prime-time NHL games has more than doubled over a similar period, The Journal reports. MLB also drew strong ratings during its opening week in late July.

Amongst the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic, NBA games have accounted for seven of the 10 most-watched TV programs since June 20. Overall, 13 NBA games cracked Nielsen’s top 25 TV broadcasts of the summer.

“There is an almost insatiable appetite for live sports on TV,” said Marc Ganis, president of sports media consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. “This is a time when not everything on broadcast and cable is up in terms of ratings, and people could be watching alternatives like Netflix, but they’re choosing sports.”

Sports fans also tuned in to watch Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, and the event was the highest-rated and most-watched sportscast since the NFL Draft in April, Sports Media Watch reported.

When the NFL season begins on Thursday night with Texans-Chiefs, advertisers (probably correctly) are expecting that the ratings will be through the roof as NBC as sold out of every available ad unit for the 2020 season’s Kickoff Game.

Last year’s NFL opener between the Packers and Bears, averaged 22.1 million viewers and a 12.9 household rating, making it the season’s third highest-rated NFL matchup in prime time, according to Sportico.

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