Before last night’s NBA Draft Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and others in the NBA insider business were told not to reveal draft picks before they were made on television. The NBA felt the practice hurt the television products.
Woj found ways to dance around saying with certainty what the picks would be, but mostly did his usual Draft Night work on Twitter. It caused a flurry of articles about his brilliance and how he stole the show. One thing he didn’t do was hurt the NBA Draft’s TV product according to Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp.
ESPN/ESPN2 combine for 2.6 overnight rating for NBA Draft last night. Networks drew 2.7 last year, and 2.4 in 2016. 2018 is 5th-best NBA Draft on record. Note for last year: had popular markets up top with 76ers/Lakers/Celtics going 1,2,3
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 22, 2018
Alex Putterman from Awful Announcing weighed in as well, saying that the NBA never really had anything to worry about when it came to how tweeting draft picks before they show up on TV would effect ratings.
NBA Draft ratings have generally risen over the years as the event has become a bigger and bigger production, buttressed by more and more pre-draft content. ESPN took its draft-night coverage to a new level this year, producing two separate broadcasts — a traditional one on ESPN and a talk-show-style version on ESPN2 — to give fans more options, and the initiative apparently paid off.
It certainly couldn’t have hurt Thursday night that the NBA seems to be riding a wave of popularity, coming off a season in which regular-season ratings were up at both the nationaland local level and postseason numbers rose as well (up until the anticlimactic Finals). At this point it seems as though networks could air a live feed of Adam Silver playing Solitaire and at least a few hundred thousand people would watch.