This NBA Draft will be one of the most watched ever because everyone is interested to see who the Lakers, Knicks and Celtics will pick!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 25, 2015
Yeah, you’d think so.
ESPN’s numbers that came out this morning showed that the L.A. and New York markets, which had a vested interest in the future of the slumbering Lakers’ and Knicks’ franchise for the first time in a long while during this televised draft era, barely did better than the national average.
The telecast between 4 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night PDT had 3.1 overnight rating from the metered markets that Nielsen monitors.
The L.A. market, second in the nation (5.6 million homes, or 4.9 percent of the population), did a 3.6 rating, which was 14th best; New York, the largest TV market in the country (7.4 million homes, or 6.5 percent of the population), came in at 3.2, ranking 22nd.
Magic Johnson’s prediction that Celtics fans would also come through didn’t come through — Boston was 20th in the rankings with a 3.4 rating.
Louisville, apparently enthralled by where all the University of Kentucky players would scatter, had the best market rating of 8.0. Louisville is the 48th largest TV market.
ESPN said that 3.1 mark matched last year’s draft as the network’s highest-rated of all time. It also said the telecast of the draft peaked between 5 and 5:15 p.m., with a 4.2 rating. At that point, the Lakers had already made D’Angelo Russell the No. 2 overall choice, with New York salivating that Jahlil Okafor could be falling to the No. 4 spot.
Philadelphia, whose 76ers had the third overall pick, was tied for second in the market ratings with a 5.0 mark (same as Greensboro, N.C.), the highest of any market with an NBA team. Philadelphia is the fourth-largest TV market in the country (2.9 million homes), behind Chicago (3.4 million).
Because a ratings point today equals more than it did, say, yesterday, the Thursday show will go down for now as the “most-watched” draft in history with an average of 3.7 million viewers, or eight percent more than 2014.
UPDATE: ESPN reported later Thursday that the draft had an average 2.4 household rating across the country (metered markets, plus all others), up four percent from last year.
ESPN has carried the NBA Draft since 2003, and it has been on TV going back to 1994.