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NBA Opening Week Becomes Most Viewed Since 2012

T
he opening week of the 2020/21 NBA season has become the most viewed opening week since 2011, recording 81.5 million viewership hours across TNT, ABC, and ESPN.

The numbers are a 95% increase from the opening week of the 2019/20 season, with the NBA also recording a 36% increase in video views and a 279% increase in minutes watched on social media compared to 2019/20.

The increase has, in part, been put down to the NBA starting the season during the week of Christmas for the first time since 2011, with the NBA Christmas Day games typically being some of the most watched over the course of the entire season.

The NBA typically begins its season in October, but the 2020/21 season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the NBA to postpone the 2019/20 season to be played out in the Orlando bubble, finishing much later in the year than typical seasons.

Despite the success of the opening week being referenced as due to the alignment with the Christmas Day games, the Christmas Day games including the New Orleans Pelicans facing the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers facing the Denver Nuggets, recorded a 10% average viewer increase compared to similar slated games on Christmas Day in 2019.

Meanwhile in the NBA, Chinese streaming giant, Tencent, has stopped live broadcasts of Philadelphia 76ers games, reportedly due to the franchise’s new president, Daryl Morey, who caused controversary at the start of the 2019/20 season due to his support of Hong Kong protestors.

This is an extension of Tencent’s commitment not to broadcast Houston Rockets games, where Morey was previously employed at the time of his comments, which also sparked State broadcaster, CCT, to not show any NBA games and has followed through with that promise so far in the new season.

This rift caused by Morey’s comments and the NBA’s support of Morey’s ‘right to free speech’ saw the NBA miss out on as much as $400 million in revenue through the 2019/20 season, as CCTV holds China’s exclusive TV rights for the NBA.