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With ratings in a slump so far this season, the NBA has needed someone to come off the bench and ball out. Cue the New Orleans Pelicans debut of Zion Williamson.
The much-heralded number 1 pick from the 2019 draft had sat out the first 44 games of the Pelicans’ season with a knee injury, but last night, he announced himself on basketball’s biggest stage in style, and viewers tuned in to watch.
Wednesday - Game - Defeat - Pelicans - San
Wednesday’s game may have ended in a narrow 121-117 defeat for the Pelicans against the San Antonio Spurs, but the victory really went to ESPN, as it delivered its highest-rated non-Christmas game so far this season (tied with the Lakers vs. Mavericks encounter from Nov. 1) with a cable-topping 1.0 rating among adults 18-49.
Williamson’s dominant presence propelled the game to 2.36 million total viewers, which represents an 88% increase in viewership versus last year’s comparable game, peaking at around 2.8 million viewers.
Comparison - Viewership - ESPN - Games - Season
For comparison, the average viewership for ESPN games so far this season has been 1.48 million viewers, while Pelicans games on the Disney-owned network were averaging 1.53 million viewers prior to last night. That number is now 1.65 million, and with four more Pelicans games to come, including an eye-catching matchup with the LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 1, the network is hoping that number might jump even...
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