The game reeled in 5.6 million viewers on ESPN, according to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. Those who tuned in saw a thriller, which the Lakers pulled out 103-100 thanks to a shot clock-beating three-pointer by LeBron James with 58.2 seconds remaining.
The win earned LA the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and a date with the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the first round.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 20, 2021
According to ESPN’s Ben Cafardo, the Lakers-Warriors broadcast peaked at over six million viewers between 12:30 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. ET.
That’s right around when LeBron hit his game-winner, so there’s no surprise more people were tuned in for crunch time.
🏀 ESPN's exclusive telecast of last night's #Lakers v #Warriors NBA Play-In game drew an average audience of 5,618,000 viewers, peaking w/ 6,149,000 viewers from 12:30-1am ET. It was the most-watched NBA game on ESPN since the 2019 Western Finals & up 190% v 2020 Play-In on ABC. pic.twitter.com/ESjH2MOKXi
— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) May 20, 2021
While LeBron may have said recently that the NBA should fire whoever came up with the play-in round, the additional games have had exactly the type of ratings impact commissioner Adam Silver was hoping for.
Don’t be surprised if the Play-In Tournament is here to stay moving forward. You won’t always have matchups as compelling as last night’s but the extra contests only help the NBA.