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Round 1 of NBA Playoffs on ABC/ESPN Sets Viewership Records

“The NBA enjoyed tremendous digital success too with its app and social media platforms amassing a total of 2.6 billion views, 46% higher than last year’s total.”

Barrett Sports Media

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The opening round of the NBA Playoffs certainly lived up to, if not exceeded expectations, and viewership across platforms owned by The Walt Disney Company set multiple new records. The network announced Tuesday that ABC and ESPN broadcasts of NBA playoff games averaged 4.52 million viewers, a record for the networks and a figure up 18% from last year. All but one of the opening-round series went more than four games, with the Golden State Warriors tilt with the Sacramento Kings being the only series that went the maximum of seven games.

In fact, Game 7 on Sunday night averaged 9.84 million viewers, which rendered it the most-watched NBA playoff game in the first round over the last 24 years, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. The broadcast reached a maximum of 11.3 million viewers in the quarter hour beginning at 6 p.m. EST. It is ABC’s largest accumulated audience ever recorded for an NBA playoff game outside of the NBA Finals.

The NBA enjoyed tremendous digital success too with its app and social media platforms amassing a total of 2.6 billion views, 46% higher than last year’s total. Digital engagement peaked on Sunday, April 30 when the mobile app evinced the most active users it ever recorded in a single day.

Leading up to Game 7, the battle between the Warriors and Kings was drawing extensive appeal from viewers, setting a record of its own. The penultimate game of the series, which took place from Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif., averaged 4.98 million viewers and peaked at 10:30 p.m. EST with a total audience of 6.51 million. Game 6 of the series marks the most-watched first round playoff game ever broadcast on ESPN.

The series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Lakers had no shortage of talking points, especially after Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks called Lakers superstar and the Association’s all-time leading scorer LeBron James “old” and someone he did not respect. LeBron James issued a presumable response to Brooks on Twitter after the Lakers eliminated the Grizzlies. 

Likely due to the intrigue surrounding the situation Brooks cultivated, along with the ardent fanbase of the Lakers, ESPN reported an average audience of 4.64 million viewers during Game 6. It marked the third-most watched first-round NBA playoff game on ESPN and peaked at 5.7 million viewers at approximately 10:50 p.m. EST.

The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Golden State Warriors beginning Tuesday night at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on TNT. The network will also broadcast Game 2 of the New York Knicks matchup against the Miami Heat and reveal the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player during the pregame show at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST.

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Monumental Sports Network No Longer Available on Fubo

“We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Photo of a studio at Monumental Sports Network
Courtesy: Monumental Sports Network

Fubo subscribers in the Washington, D.C. area will no longer be able to watch Monumental Sports Network, the regional service that airs Wahington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics games in addition to other sports coverage.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment explained in a press release that after lengthy negotiations, Fubo has refused several offers to keep the independent local network available to its users. “This means that D.C. sports fans who are Fubo subscribers do not have access to live games for the Mystics, Capitals, Wizards, and other local teams such as the Washington Spirit and area HBCUs, colleges, and high schools,” the company said in its release.

“Throughout the process, we negotiated in good faith to keep our local independent network available to Fubo’s subscribers, including offering Fubo market-rate terms that other larger distributors have accepted,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, Fubo did not appear motivated to come to a deal and refused several generous offers.

“Moving forward, our highly-rated WNBA content, including Wednesday’s Mystics-Fever game, will no longer be available on Fubo, which is unfortunate given the unprecedented interest that women’s sports are experiencing. This outcome seems at odds with Fubo’s claim to be the leading sports-focused live TV platform and clearly signals a total lack of interest in local women’s sports at a time when the rest of the world has declared their importance.  Would Fubo ever consider taking away Monumental from its fans if our NHL and NBA teams were in season?

“Unlike Fubo, we remain committed to women’s sports and serving D.C. sports fans. We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly at monumentalsportsnetwork.com.”

WUSA9, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. said they reached out to Fubo and received the following from a spokesperson:

“Fubo has been engaged in good faith negotiations with Monumental Sports Network but we were unable to reach a deal. As a result, the network left Fubo on June 15, 2024.”

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Sports Media Reacts to Charles Barkley Retirement Announcement

“We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Screengrab from Charles Barkley on Club Shay Shay
Screengrab: Club Shay Shay on YouTube

Charles Barkley said on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals that he will retire from television after next season, no matter what happens with TNT and the league. Near the conclusion of the NBA TV postgame show, Barkley said:

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.”

Barkley went on to say that he wants to turn the baton over to someone like Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter should Inside the NBA continue with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

TNT put out a statement that said, “Charles is a Hall of Famer and broadcasting icon who is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family. We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Several in sports media took to social media to post about their thoughts on Barkley’s career with TNT or wondering if Barkley’s ‘retirement’ is real:

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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