NBA play-in games generate strong TV ratings
The NBA will be quite pleased with the early returns from Tuesday night’s play-in games.
While 2021 does not mark the league’s first experiment with the play-in tournament, the 2020 event took place inside the Orlando bubble under unusual circumstances. That does mean this year’s event is the first to be staged in something akin to a normal environment, and it does seem fans are interested. According to Mark Medina of USA Today, the night’s second play-in game between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards gave TNT its highest NBA ratings since Opening Night.
The Celtics-Wizards game last night drew 2.5 million viewers & Hornets-Pacers drew 1.4 million. The Celtics-Wizards game surpassed TNT regular-season telecast numbers since opening night.
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) May 19, 2021
Considering neither game was a really marquee matchup or went down to the wire, the NBA must be thrilled. The Celtics’ placement in the late game undoubtedly helped, but it definitely looks like the games attracted some attention. Even with a late start for East Coast viewers, Wednesday’s Lakers-Warriors matchup might do even better considering how high-profile the players involved will be.
The play-in tournament has not been universally popular with players. However, it helped make for a somewhat frantic final week of the regular season, and fans seem to be buying into it. As long as it delivers ratings, it’s going to become a fixture.