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June 20, 2022

Record NBA viewership in the UK, ESPN audience up for finals

The NBA achieved record viewership in the UK for the 2021-22 season and saw a growth in its League Pass subscription streaming service.

By Tariq Saleh

North American basketball’s NBA achieved record viewership in the UK for the 2021-22 season and saw a growth in its League Pass subscription streaming service.

From the start of the regular season through to the second round of the playoffs, pay-TV broadcaster Sky generated record average viewership growth of 58%, while its NBA Sundays coverage saw an audience increase of 42%.

Game one of the opening-round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets (April 17) was also the most-viewed NBA playoff game in the UK since April 2019.

Meanwhile, NBA League Pass subscribers in the UK were up 3% year-on-year during the regular season.

Since the start of the playoffs (April 16), the NBA registered a 10% increase in League Pass subscribers in the UK.

In Europe, the league’s European social media platforms generated 226 million views during the regular season, up 23% year on year.

Ralph Rivera, NBA Europe managing director, said: “The continued growth in the UK speaks volumes of the league’s impact and relevance to the country’s millions of passionate NBA fans. The NBA’s commitment to innovation has provided fans in the UK with a multitude of ways to experience the energy and excitement of the game this season. 

“With the continued support of our partners in France, we look forward to building on this success and taking the league’s popularity in the UK to even greater heights as we look ahead to hosting the NBA Paris game in 2023.”

The NBA recently announced that the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons will face off in Paris as it resumes its regular season fixture in Europe.

It will mark the NBA’s first regular season game in the region since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In terms of merchandise sales in Europe, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry had the highest-selling jersey.

Curry led the Warriors to their fourth NBA championship in the last eight years after defeating the Boston Celtics in the finals and was named as the finals’ most valuable player.

Major US broadcaster ESPN revealed viewership for the finals on its sister network ABC was up 22% from last year.

The six-game series averaged 12.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched NBA Finals in three years.

The Warriors’ title-clinching victory in game six generated an average of nearly 14 million viewers, up 10% from last year’s equivalent game. The ABC broadcast peaked with 16.9 million viewers.

The ABC coverage delivered the highest audience share for the finals in five years (since 2017) at 20%.

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