Basketball is a well-loved sport, named the 3rd most popular sport globally with 2.2 billion fans. Millions of fans worldwide watch basketball leagues and cheer on their teams.
The National Basketball Association is the most well-known basketball league and receives the most viewership. It continually amasses large audiences in arenas and broadcasted games. Now, the NBA also sees traction in its social media platforms
This article will introduce you to fascinating recent and historical statistics about basketball viewership.
- The 2020 NBA Finals only had 7.5 million viewers, recording the lowest average viewership in 2 decades.
- There were 379,000 average viewers recorded during the 2022 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season.
- The NBA’s social media accounts had a total of 18 billion video views in 2023.
- An average of 10.7 million viewers were generated during the 2022 NCAA’s March Madness Tournament.
- The 2021-2022 NBA Season increased female viewership by 23%.
- Men remain the number 1 fans of basketball, representing 82.6% of NBA audiences in 2020.
- Based on a 2020 study, more than 11,000 NBA audiences worldwide are 19 to 29 years old.
- The NBA’s top viewer outside the US is the Philippines, making up 8.4 million unique viewers per 2021 NBA Finals game.
How Many Viewers Does Basketball Have?
The 2019 FIBA World Cup was record-breaking, generating 3 billion TV audiences globally. It was made possible by their 70+ broadcast partners, covering 190 territories. The game saw Spain win its second title after beating Argentina in front of 160 million people worldwide.
As for a regular NBA season, it averaged 1.59 million viewers in 2022-2023 across ABC, ESPN, and TNT. This is a slight decline from the 2021-2022 season, which saw 1.61 million viewers tune in to the whole season.
However, that does not mean the sport is losing the people’s interest. Fans are simply using other modes to spectate basketball instead of the traditional TV or cable broadcast.
You can learn more about that as you read through the stats and information in the article.
Statistics on Basketball Viewership
The 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors had an average TV rating of 6.58 from the 12.4 million viewers, marking a 3 million viewership increase from the previous finals.
That data further shows the NBA’s average viewership has been fluctuating. Discover about them and more interesting basketball viewership statistics below.
1. The 2020 NBA Finals viewership was the lowest recorded average in 2 decades with 7.5 million viewers.
The NBA Finals match-up in 2020 between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers saw the least average viewers at only 7.5 million. That season was played out mid-pandemic and was expected to hold a higher average viewership since there are more audiences at home streaming.
However, during that same year, players exhibited political activism, leading to some game delays. Ultimately, the issue caused a decrease in the final’s average TV viewership.
On the other hand, the highest viewership from 2002 to 2022 was 20.4 million viewers when the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers clashed for the title in 2017.
2. ESPN and ABC had an average of 3.05 million viewers when they aired the 2022 NBA Draft.
The first NBA Draft was held in 1947. The annual pre-season event is where teams draft eligible players to join the league. College and professional basketball players wish to be part of an NBA team.
In 2015, the NBA Draft marked one of its highest viewership at 3.7 million. It is the year Karl-Anthony Towns was drafted under the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This is an important event for the league. The draft is a chance to improve a team’s roster, increasing the team’s chances of winning the season’s championship.
For the fans, this is an exciting occasion. It is when they also bet on NBA Draft odds, predicting the number 1 draft pick. With that, it remains a highly-watched event before the season starts.
3. The average number of viewers of the 2022 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was 379,000 viewers.
This data is derived across several networks:
Remarkably, it is the highest average number of viewers the WNBA has seen in 14 years. Compared to the past year’s average viewership, the 2022 data showed a 16% increase.
For the WNBA, 2022 was a breakthrough year, gaining the most viewers and fans. It is due to the younger generation’s interest in watching more women’s sports leagues. According to a report, 39% of Gen Z watch women in sports, contributing to higher viewerships.
4. In 2023, the NBA recorded 18 billion video views across its social media accounts.
The NBA has several social media accounts that post clips like gaming highlights. In the 2023 season, these platforms received 14 million more followers, contributing to higher video views.
Here is how well NBA’s YouTube account is doing in 2023:
- The channel has 20 million subscribers
- More than 75 million unique viewers every 90 days are recorded.
- Viewers watch more than 35 minutes of NBA’s content on YouTube.
5. The NCAA’s March Madness Tournament had an average of 10.7 million viewers in 2022.
March Madness is the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. It coined its nickname because they play it mostly during March.
There was a 13% increase in viewership in 2022 compared to the previous year. The March Madness has had a stable average viewership for a decade. Exactly 10 years ago, the tournament also had 10.7 million viewers.
6. Based on a 2023 survey, 58% of March Madness viewers in the US prefer to watch the tournament via cable or satellite TV.
The NCAA basketball tournaments are available for streaming through the following methods:
- Online streaming
- Broadcast via cable or satellite TV
More than half of viewers (58%) prefer the second option, while the rest use different apps and streaming platforms to watch online.
7. FIBA generated 1.5 billion social media video views in 2019.
2019 was a historical year for the FIBA World Cup. It was the year they had a record-breaking TV viewership. FIBA also saw a 4,800% increase in social media video engagement that year.
Because most fans are also digitally active, FIBA produced more content online. Their mobile app also had a 700% increase in downloads, amounting to 2 million new users.
Basketball Viewer Demographics
After knowing about basketball viewership in general, let’s dive into the viewers’ demographics and get to know them more.
8. Female viewership increased to 23% in the 2021-2022 NBA Season.
(Statista, Front Office Sports)
For years, basketball has been viewed as a guy’s game. According to a 2023 survey, 66% of male respondents are avid and casual fans of the NBA. Only 38% of females follow the league.
Despite that, recent data reveal women make up one-third of the NBA’s viewership. That shows the gender is more interested in the sport than some think. This is brought upon by young and diverse audiences, whose interests are not anchored on usual gender expectations.
9. Males overrepresented the audiences of the NBA in 2020 by 82.6%.
Of the 19,996 respondents in the 2020 study, 16,514 are male audiences of the NBA. The rest, 17.4%, (3,482) are female viewers.
Although there is a rise in female viewers, men still overrepresent the viewers of the NBA.
10. Over 11,000 NBA audiences worldwide are 19 to 29 years old.
The NBA has been seeing more and more young viewers. They contribute to higher viewership, and ultimately, increase the league’s revenue.
The second age group that makes up the majority of NBA audiences consists of over 6,000 29 to 39-year-olds. Most of them were once the young audiences of the NBA.
Statistics on Basketball Viewership by Tournament
One of Michael Jordan’s greatest games holds the highest viewership in the NBA and the whole basketball industry. The 1988 NBA Finals game 6 saw the Chicago Bulls beat Utah Jazz by a point, 87-86, which was watched by 35.89 million viewers.
Several games came close to beating that match’s record, but none of them are from recent seasons. Learn more about them in the following data and information.
11. The 2015 NBA Finals had a TV rating of 11.6, the highest viewership of any NBA Finals in recent years.
In 2015, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers faced off in 6 games, making 19.9 million people in the US tune into their TVs. Game 6 saw GSW claim the championship by 105-97. ABC recorded 23.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched game 6 on the channel.
The teams faced each other again in 2017 when ABC recorded 18.34 million viewers during Game 5. The Warriors won again, 129-120. For all 5 games they played, the NBA raked in an average of 20.4 million viewers with a TV rating of 11.3.
12. At least 7.5% of US households watched 5 minutes of the NBA Finals Game 6 in 2022.
(Statista, ESPN Press Room)
That was the year that NBA Finals’ viewership on ABC was up by 22%. Even watching for a cumulative of 5 minutes increased the total viewership for that season’s championship game. In the end, the game generated a total of 14 million viewers.
The game was between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, with the latter winning the championship.
13. WNBA viewership was up by 53% during the 2022 All-Star Game compared to the previous year’s viewership.
The 2022 WNBA All-Star Game had an average of 734,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star Game in 6 years. This can be accounted for by the younger viewer’s increasing interest in women’s athletics.
14. Viewers of the WNBA Draft were up 20% in 2022 on ESPN.
Around 403,000 average viewers were recorded for the 2022 WNBA Draft, making it the most-viewed WNBA Draft since 2004. Reasons for this significant increase in viewers include:
- 10% more subscribers in WNBA League Pass.
- Doubled web traffic on WNBA’s official website.
- 36% more social media engagement in WNBA’s social media accounts.
15. The 2023 March Madness championship game attracted almost 14.69 million viewers in the US.
The contest saw the Connecticut Huskies beat the San Diego State Aztecs, 76-59.
Unfortunately, the teams do not have a large fanbase compared to other teams in the league. Because of that, the NCAA championship game recorded the lowest viewership the NCAA has seen in over a decade.
16. The 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup recorded historical viewership, reaching 750 million viewers in China alone.
FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup boomed in game attendance, broadcast, and digital views in 2022. Here are the best-ever statistics the league saw that year:
|Highest attendance ever||145,000+|
|The final game between China and USA||41 million viewers in China’s streaming channels CCTV-5 and Tencent.|
|5 times more social media views than in 2018||500 million social media video views|
Basketball Viewership by Country
While the United States makes up the lion’s share of basketball viewership, the sport is heavily followed worldwide. Find out what countries watch basketball the most as you read further.
17. The Philippines is the NBA’s top viewer outside the US, which gave 8.4 million unique viewers per game during the 2021 NBA Finals.
The 2021 NBA Finals were between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. The Filipino viewers of that game were 7.3% of the Philippine population.
Americans introduced the sport during their occupation in the Philippines. Since then, basketball has been the country’s most appreciated sport, like soccer in Brazil.
18. Cameroon had a 272% increase in NBA League Pass subscribers in 2022.
The NBA League Pass subscription lets you access live and on-demand games. Cameroon, Joel Embiid’s home country, almost tripled its subscribers for the NBA League Pass in 2021.
19. The 2022 NBA games had a 16% larger audience in Brazil than last season.
Soccer has always been the number one sport in Brazil, while basketball only falls 3rd. Regardless, viewership of the NBA games has been spiking in the country.
The accessibility of many up-and-coming ways to access the games, like the NBA League Pass and social media platforms, contribute to increased interest and viewers.
20. The EuroBasket 2022 Finals recorded a total of 11.5 million views across the continent.
(Sports Pro Media)
The game where Spain triumphed over France in the 2022 EuroBasket with a 88-76 sweep pulled one of the highest TV audiences in Europe and EuroBasket’s history:
In the same year, EuroBasket’s social media accounts gained 358,000 followers, which helped generate 971 million video views for their content.
The numbers above prove that basketball is, and will remain, one of the most-watched sports. It might see most of its viewers in America, but the sport is appreciated globally. The NBA league stays the most followed basketball league worldwide.
More young viewers are taking over as audiences of this game, and their selection of basketball leagues is more diverse. That is how the WNBA, NCAA Women’s Basketball, and other global leagues like FIBA have been having increased viewership.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many average viewers watch NBA?
The NBA had around 1.59 million viewers in the 2022-2023 season.
What is the highest NBA viewership?
The highest NBA viewership watch was recorded during the 1988 NBA Finals Game 6 with 35.89 million viewers. It was Michael Jordan’s storybook ending for his career with the Chicago Bulls, beating Utah Jazz by a point, 87-86.
What is the average NBA viewership by year?
The NBA has a yearly viewership average of 1.6 million viewers.
List of Sources