23 Amazing NBA Viewership Statistics in 2023
Basketball is among the biggest sports in the world, so it’s no wonder that the NBA – one of the top basketball leagues in the world – attracts a massive audience in America and worldwide.
The 2022-2023 NBA season saw its league pass subscribers increase by 30%, while its social media platforms gained 13 billion views. Both figures show how big the league is.
This article explores the latest stats and facts on the popularity of the NBA, both recent and historical.
Highlights of the Article
- Around 1.59 million average US viewers tuned into the NBA 2022-2023 Regular Season.
- The NBA 2023 Playoffs garnered a record of 5.47 million viewers on average, the most-watched postseason since 2019.
- In 2022, the NBA was the most-followed professional sports league, with 2.49 billion engagements.
- Fans belonging to the African-American ethnicity dominate the NBA fanbase by 76%.
- The NBA is big in the Philippines, with 63% of its population interested in the league.
- Michael Jordan’s last game as a Chicago Bulls is the most-watched NBA game ever, with almost 36 million viewers.
- The Christmas Game in the 2004-2005 NBA season between the Heat and Lakers gained 13.18 million viewers, the most-viewed NBA Christmas Day Game ever.
- The lowest-rated and least-viewed All-Star Game happened in 2023, with a low 4.59 million views.
- The 2023 WNBA Draft was the league’s most-watched draft, with 572,000 viewers on ESPN.
Essential NBA Viewership Facts and Stats for 2023
Among many leagues worldwide, the NBA is still the most followed and sought-after in 2023 for fans and players, with over 40 million fans on Facebook and Twitter each.
The league is home to many of the biggest athletes in recent years, such as Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Lebron James, and Nikola Jokic, who have been crucial to the NBA’s viewership ratings.
Let’s explore the most recent viewership figures for the NBA.
1. Game 5 of the 2023 NBA finals garnered a peak audience of 17.88 million.
The final game in the NBA Finals 2023 between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat drew an average viewership record of 13.08 million, peaking at 17.88 million, the most-watched game of 2022-2023.
The Nuggets won 94-89 Game 5, ending the series and awarding them their first NBA title since joining the league in 1976. Nikola Jokic, the Finals MVP, garnered 540 million content views on social media.
Nikola Jokic is a Serbian player, deemed by many as one of the greatest players ever. He is set to become the NBA’s highest-earning player, with a 5-year contract worth $276,122,630.
Jokic is one of many talented international players to come and dominate the league in recent years.
The ABA is one of the biggest European basketball leagues, producing many big names in the NBA, such as Jokic, Goran Dragic, and Vlade Divac.
2. In the US, the average viewers for the NBA 2022-2023 Regular Season was around 1.59 million.
Viewership for the 2022-2023 NBA Regular Season was around 1.59 million across US TV networks NBA on ABC, ESPN, and TNT.
3. The 2023 NBA Playoffs was the league’s most-watched postseason in five years, averaging 5.47 million viewers.
The NBA’s most recent postseason in 2023 was one of the most competitive series the NBA has had in the past five years, as evidenced by the viewership records.
The NBA Playoffs for 2023 saw the league collect an average viewership of 5.47 million per game on NBA on ABC, ESPN, and TNT.
4. The social media engagement for the 2023 NBA Playoffs is the biggest recorded for the playoffs ever, with eight billion total views.
Across social media platforms, the NBA 2023 Playoffs gained around eight billion views, the biggest viewership for any NBA postseason ever.
The NBA App also had a significant postseason regarding followers, achieving a 32% increase on the NBA League Pass from the previous year, mainly driven by international fans.
5. Viewership for the 2022 NBA Finals was up 22% compared to the last season’s finals.
Viewership for the 2022 NBA finals was significantly higher than the previous year, with an average of 12.4 million, compared to 2021’s average of 9.91 million fans.
Of the six games played, Game 6, which saw the Golden State Warriors victorious, was the most popular, reaching a peak of 13.99 million viewers.
While viewership levels are still below pre-pandemic ratings, the 2022 NBA Finals was still the most-watched since 2019, attracting 15.1 million viewers.
6. The Lakers-Warriors March 2023 match-up gathered 3.9 million viewers, the biggest for a non-Christmas Day NBA game since 2019.
(ESPN Pressroom, Basketball News)
The LA Lakers-Golden State Warriors game on March 6, 2023, recorded the most-viewed non-Christmas Day Game in four years.
The game was aired on NBA on ABC, peaking with 5.411 million viewers and generating an average of 3.95 million viewers.
The game ended with the Lakers’ Anthony Davis scoring 39 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, leading the team to a 113-105 victory over Steph Curry’s Warriors.
The Lakers-Warrios match-up has been one of the most-followed rivalries in recent years.
The teams are considered by many as two of the best basketball organizations ever due to their many achievements and records.
7. In the 2021-2022 NBA season, regular games had an average of 5.8 million TV viewers across ABC, ESPN, and TNT.
The regular season NBA games in the 2021-2022 season had an average of 1.4 million viewers on ESPN, marking a 17% increase compared to the previous season.
TNT also averaged 1.4 million viewers, up 13%, while the NBA on ABC package averaged 3.03 million viewers, a 13% rise.
8. The NBA finals in 2022 had an average TV rating of 6.58.
(Sports Media Watch)
The positive trend extends to the NBA TV ratings, as the 2022 finals also had significantly higher ratings than the previous year’s finals.
With an average rating of 6.58 compared to 5.2 in 2021, the 2022 finals were noticeably ahead. This is an even bigger step up if we consider that the 2020 finals had a rating of just over 4.
TV ratings have not recovered post-pandemic, with 2019 finals averaging 8.77, but NBA ratings remained up in 2022, indicating a positive trend for the upcoming season.
The NBA 2022 Finals saw an intense battle between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
The GSW won the series, resulting in their 7th NBA title and 4th within a decade. Their dominance from 2013 – 2022 made them one of the world’s most valuable teams in recent years.
9. The NBA Draft 2023 peaked at around 6.06 million viewers across ABC and ESPN.
The 2023 NBA Draft was the most-viewed draft the league has produced, with its First Round averaging 4.93 million viewers, the most-watched TV program of the day in all key demographics.
Around 3,743,000 viewers watched the entire 2023 NBA Draft, a 23% increase from the previous year, which garnered over 3.05 million viewers.
This figure was a notable increase from the previous two years, as the 2020 and 2021 drafts had only 2.13 and 2.26 million viewers, respectively.
10. 2022 saw the NBA become social media’s most-followed professional sports league, with around 29.4 billion video views across all platforms.
The NBA was the most-viewed and engaged professional sports league on social media in 2022, with 29.4 billion video views across all platforms.
The league has more fans than the other major pro sports leagues in the US combined, gaining around 25 million followers on social media in 2021, including over 11 million on Instagram.
Over 77 million follow the NBA on IG, becoming their eighth-most followed brand as of March 2023. The NBA also has 20.8 million YouTube subscribers, garnering over 12.7 billion views.
On the success of the NBA’s social media venture, Kevin Esteves, the NBA’s Associate VP of Digital Strategy and Analytics, had this to say:
“It’s about optimizing content for the platform that we’re on — not just spraying the same piece of content across all of our platforms, but really optimizing for each platform, nurturing that fan base and giving them exactly what they want.”
“That’s sort of been key in our recipe for success.”
Statistics Behind NBA Viewership Demographic
The NBA has continually evolved in how the game is played and the types of audience it attracts.
Recent years have seen the league’s viewership undergo a major shift, with a surge in female viewership and increasing international interest, particularly from regions like Asia and Africa.
This diversification is attributed to robust marketing strategies, partnerships with international leagues, and the rise of global NBA stars.
This section touches upon the demographic of NBA viewers, exploring how far the league’s reach has been worldwide regarding fan interest.
11. 76% of Black Americans are likely to be NBA fans.
40% of Black respondents in the US described themselves as avid fans, and 36% only had a casual interest. That said, only 24% of those surveyed had no interest in the NBA whatsoever.
In contrast, only 14% of white respondents described themselves as avid fans, 28% said they were casual fans, while the majority (58%) had no interest in the league.
Around 72% of the players in the NBA are of Black ethnicity, which factors into the type of demographic the sport and the league attract.
12. Women account for over one-third of the NBA’s viewership demographic.
(Front Office Sports, Statista)
The NBA’s 2020-2021 Season saw a 23% rise in female viewers, making up around ⅓ (530,000) of the NBA’s viewership profile for that season.
Meanwhile, overall interest in the NBA in the US saw that around 10% of women were avid league fans and that 28% casually watched the program.
13. The NBA is the most popular with people aged 18 to 44.
The NBA fan base demographics are tipped in favor of the 18-44 age group.
32% of respondents in the 18-34 and 32% in the 35-44 age brackets expressed being casual followers of the NBA.
|AGE BRACKET||AVID FANS||CASUAL FANS||NO INTEREST|
|18 – 34||28%||32%||40%|
|35 – 44||26%||32%||43%|
|45 – 64||18%||32%||51%|
Meanwhile, the NBA was noticeably less popular with those aged 45 to 64 (51%) and those over 65 (63%).
14. 63% of the Philippines’ population has shown interest in the NBA.
The country with the highest percentage of the population interested in the league is definitely the Philippines.
This country is the fourth-largest market for the NBA outside of the US, and research by Statista conducted in 2021 showed that a whopping 63% of the population expressed interest in the NBA.
On top of that, data from Forbes indicates that as much as 98% of the population has some degree of awareness of the NBA, making it the most popular sports league in the country.
Outside of the US, the Philippines is the NBA’s top viewer, generating 8.4 million unique viewers during the 2021 NBA Finals.
Discover more statistics about basketball viewership per country from this article.
All-Time NBA Viewership Statistics
The NBA is the world’s biggest basketball league, most likely because the league has the best basketball athletes and coaches performing at the highest level.
Unsurprisingly, the league generates a massive following worldwide, averaging around 1.5 million viewers during the regular seasons.
Below are some essential NBA viewership statistics that discuss some of the most viewed and followed moments in league history.
The NBA is the most recognizable basketball league ever, but hundreds of leagues and associations exist globally.
Basketball is one of the most beloved and played sports worldwide, resulting in various leagues created in other countries, not just in the US.
15. Game 6 of the 1998 finals holds the record for the highest viewership at 35.89 million viewers.
If we look at the NBA finals viewership by year, the game that attracted the highest viewership to date was the sixth game of the 1998 finals, when the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 87-86.
A total of 35.89 million viewers watched the game, with a rating of 22.3, making it the highest-rated and most-watched game in the history of the NBA league.
Michael Jordan’s popularity was a big factor behind these figures, as the world considers the “Basketball GOAT” among the most dominant athletes ever.
16. The most-watched NBA-related video on YouTube is a video of Kobe Bryant, with 86 million views.
As of September 2023, the most watched NBA-related video on YouTube is a video showing how Kobe Bryant didn’t flinch when Matt Barnes (Orlando Magic) threw a ball at his face.
The NBA on the ESPN channel uploaded the video in 2019, with 86 million views, 882,000 likes, and 38,553 comments.
The Mamba is among the sport’s most interesting figures. Aside from the view count, Bryant holds many notable records and achievements and is hailed as one of the greatest athletes ever.
17. In the 2004-2005 NBA season, the much-awaited Shaq vs. Kobe Christmas match-up amassed 13.18 million viewers.
(Sports Media Watch)
In the 2004 pre-season, Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat from the LA Lakers, resulting from several factors, including the feud between him and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
This feud prompted the NBA to schedule a Christmas Day Game between the Lakers and the Heat, capitalizing on the publicity from the feud.
The booking proved successful as the game achieved a 7.3 rating, averaging 13.18 million viewers, the most-viewed NBA Christmas Game. Shaq and the Heat won the game in OT, 104-102.
Definition: What Is An “Overtime” in the NBA?
It’s awesome to know that the second most-watched Christmas Day Game was another Heat vs. Lakers game, this time in 2010, showing the Kobe-Lebron match-up, which amassed 13.11 million.
18. The video of Michael Jordan’s last 3 minutes as a Chicago Bulls has gained 82 million views on YouTube as of 2023.
(Fadeaway World, Google Trends)
Among many of Jordan’s most iconic moments in the NBA was his 1998 Finals against the Utah Jazz performance, averaging 33.5 points in six games, among the greatest NBA records ever.
In his last game as a Bulls, “His Airness” scored 45 points, including a 20-foot dagger with 5.2 seconds left in the game, dubbed “The Shot.”
The video of Jordan’s final 3 minutes in Game 6 is the second most watched NBA content on YouTube, with 82 million views.
19. The NBA All-Star 2023 is the least viewed All-Star game of all time, with a low 4.59 million view count.
(Statista, Yahoo Sports, The Sports Rush)
The All-Star Weekend (ASW) is among the NBA’s most famous and eventful festivals.
The NBA holds the ASW in the middle of their regular season, including various exhibitions such as the Slam Dunk Contest and the 3-Point contest, culminating with the NBA All-Star Game.
The event is one of the most awaited games by basketball fans. Unfortunately, the 2023 All-Star Game is the least viewed and lowest-rated in NBA history, with 4.6 million viewers.
The game was panned by basketball fans and critics due to poor performances by the players and non-competitive gameplay from the teams.
NBA Players have justified their decreased efforts during All-Star Games, referring to health reasons and trying to avoid unnecessary injuries playing a game with no bearing.
Basketball has recorded the highest amounts of injuries from 2012-2021.
The sport accounted for 26% of the total injuries reported in ER departments, around 4.4 million individuals.
WNBA Viewership Statistics For 2023
The WNBA is seen to be a lesser female version of the NBA, leading to fewer views and salaries, as WNBA athletes earn $215,000 compared to the $123,655,000 salary cap the NBA earns.
However, recent developments in the US with support for women’s rights have seen growth in viewership and ratings for the WNBA.
The statistics below shall explore the slow rise in popularity of the WNBA since 2020.
20. The WNBA 2023 draft had 572,000 viewers.
(Front End Sports, WNBA, Statista, The Athletic)
The 2023 WNBA draft attracted a total of 572,000 viewers, making it the most-watched draft in the league’s history. The second highest was in 2014, with a record of 413,000 viewers.
The figures increased by 42% compared to the previous year when 403,000 viewers tuned in for the draft.
The No. 1 pick saw Aliyah Boston drafted by the Indiana Fever. Critics predict her bright future, following in the footsteps of Diana Taurasi, one of the greatest sportswomen ever.
Aliyah Boston is a 6’5” forward who is a three-time All-American and two-time Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 13 points, 9.8 boards, and two blocks per game in her senior year.
21. In 2022, the WNBA regular season viewership increased by 20% compared to the previous year.
The year 2022 was good for the WNBA, as the viewership for the regular season also increased by 20%, averaging 379,000 viewers, a significant step up compared to the previous season.
The increase in viewership wasn’t as drastic as the previous year’s 49% jump that followed the COVID-19 pandemic, but 2022 still set the record as the most-watched WNBA season since 2008.
2022 became one of the WNBA’s biggest seasons concerning viewership and engagement, recording various record highs.
22. Only 23% of women are interested in the WNBA in 2023.
A small percentage of women showed interest in the WNBA, with 19% showing only casual interest, leaving a mere 4% who described themselves as invested fans.
The interest among men was slightly higher, with 40% of male responders showing interest in the WNBA, though 29% only followed the league casually, and 11% described themselves as avid fans.
23. 534,000 viewers saw the 2022 WNBA finals.
(Statista, The Athletic)
While the numbers were generally on the rise, the 534,000 viewers for the 2022 WNBA finals decreased compared to the 2021 finals, which had 559,000 viewers on ESPN and ABC.
The 2022 finals still saw good ratings relative to the last 19 years, far from the low views in 2004, 2008, 2013, and 2019 finals, all of which saw viewership numbers plummet well below 400,000.
The Final Score
Judging by these NBA statistics, both the NBA and the WNBA are well on their way toward getting their viewership back up to pre-pandemic levels, if not higher.
That said, while all sports were hit hard by the pandemic, the league isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and we’ll be looking forward to the next NBA seasons and postseasons.
The NBA always had the best basketball players and coaches, producing the greatest and most memorable moments worth watching by basketball fans and casual viewers.
With the NBA only gaining more traction worldwide, with more international players entering the league, the viewership and following only seem to be on an upward trajectory in the coming years.
Is the NBA becoming less popular?
While the NBA was hit hard by the pandemic, it’s now well on its way toward recovering, and the viewership levels have been steadily rising since 2020. Moreover, the NBA saw more than $10 billion in revenue in the 2021/2022 season, a significant increase from the previous year’s $6.41 billion.
Is the viewership of the NBA down?
In 2022, NBA viewership numbers were on the rise, having increased by 16% compared to 2021. This marked a steady year-on-year increase following the sudden drop in viewership amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
How many viewers does the NBA get?
Looking at 2022 NBA viewership statistics, regular season games drew in an average of 1.4 million viewers, and the finals had a whopping 12.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched NBA finals since 2019.
List of sources
- SportsPro Media
- SportsPro Media
- SportsPro Media
- ESPN Pressroom
- Basketball News
- The Athletic
- Sports Media Watch
- Basketball News
- Front Office Sports
- Basketball Insiders
- Fadeaway World
- Sports Media Watch
- Fadeaway World
- Google Trends
- Yahoo Sports
- The Sports Rush
- Front End Sports
- The Athletic
- The Athletic
- The Athletic