Wembanyama Debut Is Most Watched NBA Season Opener In 11 Years

Wembanyama Debut Is Most Watched NBA Season Opener In 11 Years

Key Highlights:

  • 🏀 2.99M viewers
  • 🏀 Most-watched Mavs/Spurs reg. season game on ESPN ever (non-Xmas)
  • 🏀 NBA League Pass viewership in France was up +220% vs. last year’s regular season average
  • 🏀 214 M video views: most of any player on NBA social since start of preseason

One of the most anticipated debuts since LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama has already captured the interest of basketball fans from around the world. The Wembanyama era began last night at Frost Bank Center against the Dallas Mavericks.

Not only was it Wembanyama’s first NBA game in front of a sold-out crowd but millions of viewers tuned into the rookie’s debut on Wednesday night. His first NBA game delivered in a big way with an average of 2.989 million viewers tuning in to watch the 7’4” product from France.

It was the most-watched NBA season-opener in 11 years, according to the NBA, and the most-watched Spurs-Mavericks regular season game ever on ESPN.

Wembanyama’s impact also extended across the pond, as NBA League Pass viewership in France was up +220% compared to last year’s regular season average.

Victor Wembanyama’s Spurs Was Most Watched Game in Opening Week

Wembanyama’s first game in the NBA averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.99 million viewers on ESPN. It was a milestone for the network, becoming the most-watched Opening Week game since the Houston Rockers vs Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, which happened to be LeBron James’ first home game as a Laker.

The Mavericks vs Spurs game peaked at 3.9 million viewers from 10 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. ET, which outpaced both Opening Night games on TNT.

On Tuesday, there were only two games with the Lakers vs Denver Nuggets bringing in 2.84 million and Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors averaging 2.71 million.

It also marks the first time Opening Night games weren’t the most-watched of the opening week since 2018.

Wembanyama’s NBA Debut Draw LeBron James Type Numbers

There is a lot of hype surrounding Wembanyama. However, his first NBA game didn’t go as planned, as he picked up five fouls and played only 23 minutes. Still, he managed to record 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, and a block.

The Spurs may fell to the Mavericks 126-119 but viewership was still going strong. For the Mavericks, it was an increase of 83% from last year’s season-opener against the Suns.

For Wembanyama and the Spurs, viewership numbers also resemble LeBron James’ career debut in 2003 against Sacramento. The game also aired on ESPN bringing an audience of 3.03 million viewers.

ESPN had a strong showcase of games on Wednesday featuring the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks earlier in the night, which averaged 2.55 million viewers. The Celtics win had a higher peak audience than the Mavericks vs Spurs, with 4.35 million tuning in from 9:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. However, the numbers could be inflated as Wembanyama’s game was scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.

The doubleheaders averaged 2.76 million viewers, up 80% from last year.

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