Nets on YES continues to set ratings records, but Knicks on MSG maintains lead

Wednesday night’s Nets-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden will be long remembered for its historic Nets comeback and Cam Thomas’ 29-foot dagger, the last of his 16 fourth-quarter points.

And a lot of people were watching across the country. According to Sports Media Watch, the game averaged 1.26 million viewers on ESPN. No word on what audiences climaxed at, but with such a dramatic finish, it must have been high.

Then on Thursday, despite the two teams missing six stars between them, the Nets-Wizards game drew 101,000 viewers, peaking at 144,000 during the quarter hour from 9:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., according to Bob Raissman, the Daily News media columnist. . It was, in fact, the fifth-best numbers for the Nets on YES this season, the network says. Cam Show afterglow?

In fact, Nets viewership is up 49% from 2019-20, the season before the pandemic took hold. That gives the Nets an average of 70,000 viewers per game. This total viewership figure is YES Network’s highest pre-All-Star Break viewership since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.

Still, as Raissman notes, the Nets on YES numbers pale in comparison to the Knicks’ 2019-20 numbers.

The Knicks on MSG (not including MSG+) increased average total viewership by 76% to 151,000 from 86,000 in 2019-20. With mounting losses, some embarrassing, it will be difficult to maintain healthy numbers. Still, never underestimate the ability of James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan’s Knicks to sell a twisted reality show featuring dysfunction and a circus atmosphere.

This despite the dispute between MSG and Comcast that has blackened the Nets and Rangers all season in New Jersey. (Analysts don’t think the loss of Comcast’s coverage areas in New Jersey isn’t such a factor. MSG’s numbers in Comcast’s viewing area aren’t relatively large or relatively close to the city geographically. )

Still, the Nets on YES made up much of the long-standing gap between the two teams’ regional ratings. The increase in the number of YES votes was even more extraordinary. In 2016-17, Sean Marks’ first year of rebuilding, the Nets only averaged around 25,000 viewers per game for the 20 wins A year later, things weren’t much better with an average of 27,000 for a 28-win team. Thus, the ratings of the Nets have practically tripled in the last five years.

Raissman believes that as the regular season intensifies, the Nets’ numbers should increase, also noting that the Nets, like their cross-river rivals, have had their share of controversy this season.

There was James Harden planning his escape from Brooklyn. And with the Kyrie Irving vaccine saga still hanging over the team, the Nets can claim some of the circus quality that worked for the Knicks. Additionally, the prospects of Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons joining forces are also expected to boost viewership. The idea of ​​the Nets starting late to get to the playoffs (especially if there’s no Yankees baseball) bolsters the case for a larger YES audience in the aftermath.

These are the regional television ratings. The Nets also had a number of big national television ratings this season, the biggest being the 5.75 million who watched the Nets-Lakers on Christmas Day despite the NFL schedule.