Last Saturday’s thrilling Game Six, 3rd Round victory by the Toronto Raptors over the Milwaukee Bucks set a record for NBA viewership in Canada.
The game, which earned Toronto its first ever berth in the NBA finals, drew 2,503,000 on Sportsnet National and another 624,000 on Sportsnet One+. That’s a combined live total of 3,127,000 average minute audience viewers across Canada according to Numeris overnight estimates. Nearly half of those viewers saw the game on Sportsnet Ontario.
According to a Sportsnet release, audience levels peaked at 5.3 million viewers Saturday at 11:10 p.m. ET, just as the Raptors sunk their final basket in the close-fought 100 – 94 victory.
The three Eastern Conference Finals Games covered by Sportsnet had a series average audience of 2.1 million viewers. According to the Rogers-owned service, this marked a 77 per cent increase over the Raptors previous Conference Final appearance in 2016. Game Six also saw Sportsnet’s streaming service Sportsnet Now set a single day subscription sales record.
The Raptors have come to Rogers’ rescue just as Stanley Cup coverage ratings stall in the latter rounds of the NHL playoffs. Sportsnet, which shares Raptor coverage with TSN, has had the good luck to host both the Game Seven 2nd round rim-bouncer victory and Saturday’s historic win — the two highest-rated NBA games in Canadian history.
On the hockey side, the most recent Numeris Top 30 Live+7 totals featured three Raptor games split between Sportsnet and TSN. On the hockey side, in mid-May, not one NHL Stanley Cup game on either CBC or Sportsnet cracked the May 6-12 list of top-rated shows in English Canada.
Saturday was a rare night off for NHL playoff coverage in Canada, but earlier that same afternoon a World Championships game between Canada and Czechoslovakia drew 442,000 viewers on TSN. Also that afternoon, the Toronto Blue Jays batted an estimated 256,000 against San Diego in MLB action on Sportsnet National.