Entering the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the Sacramento Kings vs. the Golden State Warriors was arguably the most anticipated first-round series.
The Kings, with the most efficient offense in NBA history, were breaking their 16-year playoff drought. The defending-champion Warriors were finally at full strength and ready to chase their fifth title in nine years.
Ticket prices were through the roof, with Game 1 going down as the most expensive non-Finals game on record.
The series, which is currently tied 2-2, has not disappointed.
Kings-Warriors has been must-see TV, and the ratings reflect this. Game 4 between the Kings and Warriors drew the largest audience for a first-round NBA playoff game across any network over the last 21 years, according to Nielsen.
The broadcast averaged 7,523,000 viewers, peaking with 10,406,000 viewers during the 6 p.m. ET quarter hour.
🚨 WILD ENDING 🚨— NBA UK (@NBAUK) April 24, 2023
Relive the final 5 minutes of Game 4 between the Warriors & Kings as the game went down to the very last shot! 👀#NBASundays pic.twitter.com/hgVvkD337h
When was the last time a first-round match-up had this kind of audience?
When Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 28, 2002, for an average audience of 8,555,000 viewers. That was an elimination game, with the Lakers defeating the Blazers 92-91.
The ABC broadcast of Kings-Warriors was the most-watched program across all of television on Sunday, including in all key demographics.
Game 5 between the Kings and Warriors is Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.
While there was some uncertainty about De'Aaron Fox's availability for Game 5 due to a broken index finger on his shooting hand, the All-Star guard told reporters that he's expecting to play in front of the rabid Sacramento crowd.
“There’s no if, ands or buts… I’m playing," Fox told Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.