The NBA roared back onto the airwaves Wednesday night giving ESPN its most-watched opening night in 11 years.
With an average audience of 2.8M across the first two games of the season, ESPN saw 80% growth over the viewership for last year’s opening night (around 1.5M), according to Nielsen. It also marks the second most-watched opening night ever for the network.
More from Deadline
First up, the Boston Celtics kicked things off with a victory over the New York Knicks, which averaged around 2.6M viewers. Peaking with 4.4M viewers around 9:45 p.m. ET, it was the most-watched ESPN season-opening early game since 2012 — up 76% from last year’s early game (which featured the New York Knicks vs. the Memphis Grizzlies).
The Dallas Mavericks followed that up by defeating the San Antonio Spurs. That game, which also featured the debut of the Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama, drew about 3M viewers.
That game peaked with 3.9M viewers around 10 p.m. ET and was up 83% over last year’s comparable game (Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns).
It marks the most-watched season-opening ESPN late game since 2012. Excluding Christmas Day, it is the most-watched San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks regular season game ever on ESPN.
Best of Deadline