A much-anticipated playoff series between two of California’s premiere sports franchises is already shattering records.
Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns TNT, one of the NBA’s broadcast partners, announced that Tuesday’s Western Conference Semifinals Game 1 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors set a new viewership record.
The telecast averaged 7.4 million viewers, the most to ever tune in for a Conference Semifinal Game 1 in the history of cable television. It peaked at more than 8 million viewers toward the conclusion of the competitive contest, which ended in a 117-112 Lakers win.
The Lakers-Warriors matchup was the No. 1 program across all of television Tuesday night, and the most-watched Conference Semifinal game on TNT in more than a decade, Warner Bros. Discovery said. The last Conference Semifinal game to eclipse that viewership level was Game 5 of the 2012 series between the Lakers and then Oklahoma City Thunder.
That series featured five NBA Hall-of-Famers in Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, as well as the upstart Thunder headlined by Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
More than a decade later, another Lakers team with two all-time greats is duking it out with a star-studded team comprised of multiple Hall-of-Famers, albeit one that is more established than the 2012 Thunder.
LeBron James and Steph Curry are arguably the two biggest draws in American sports and the two stars have a long postseason history against each other. They battled it out in the NBA Finals for four straight years when James was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this is their first time meeting in the postseason since James joined the Lakers and moved to the Western Conference (not including a 2021 NBA Play-In game, which is technically not considered an official part of the postseason.)
TNT’s other NBA telecast, a matchup between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, averaged 4.7 million viewers. The network’s popular analysis program, “Inside the NBA,” averaged 2.2 million viewers.
Warner Bros. Discovery says viewership is up 18% over last year’s Conference Semifinals coverage and up 10% from last year’s playoffs as a whole.
With only one game of a possible seven-game series in the books, the NBA and its broadcast partners will be watching viewership totals of the marquee California clash closely.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers will battle again with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green Thursday night at the Chase Center in San Francisco before the series heads to Los Angeles for a two-game Lakers homestand.
The series could come to an end as early as next Monday or drag on through May 14 — one option likely an internal favorite for the folks at Warner Bros. Discovery.