Quantifying LeBron’s Impact On TV Viewership

By | 2018-10-25T21:47:26+00:00 October 24th, 2018|Research|

Source: USA Today

The world’s most popular NBA player is off and running in Los Angeles.

How much does LeBron’s star wattage impact TV viewership? 

If you’re looking for a media spotlight, it doesn’t get much brighter than Los Angeles. So when LeBron James decided to take his talents (and beard) to the storied Lakers franchise and leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, spotlight operators across LA got ready for some overtime work.

It was a win-win situation — except for fans in Cleveland — in that the Lakers secured perhaps the greatest NBA player of all-time to anchor what was a mediocre-at-best team last season. LeBron gets to put down roots in Hollywood and continue building his media and business empire. Also, he’ll be playing on one of the league’s flagship teams for at least the next four seasons.

So saying there was a buzz around opening night for the Lakers is an understatement — the world was watching. As a follow-up to our analysis of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, Samba TV measured and compared audience trends for the 2017 and 2018 Lakers opening night games to answer:

  • What is LeBron’s impact on Lakers TV viewership?
  • How much did LeBron’s presence boost Lakers viewership in Los Angeles?
  • Did Cleveland fans stick with LeBron and watch the Lakers?

Samba TV Analysis: The Results

LeBron’s move from a mid-market team in Cleveland to the nation’s second-largest market had a significant impact on NBA viewership for the Lakers’ opening night game. When comparing the season openers in 2017 and 2018, viewership increased nationally, as well as in both Los Angeles and Cleveland.

What’s most surprising: Viewers in Cleveland tuned-in to the Lakers’ opening game at a higher rate than the National average (+22%), despite the late 10:30 EDT tip-off.

Samba’s analysis proves that NBA fans in Cleveland have continued to follow LeBron in LA, a far reach from his last departure to Miami when Cavs fans were burning their LeBron jerseys in the streets. See below for the full results:

Source: Samba TV

NBA & Basketball Audience Targeting Strategy

Samba TV’s viewership audiences allow brands to reach NBA viewers and basketball fans at scale across their second screens. Search for the following segment taxonomies in your DSP:

Samba TV > Sports TV Enthusiasts > Basketball TV Viewers

Samba TV > Premium > TV Tentpoles > NBA Finals

Samba TV > Premium > TV Tentpoles > NCAA March Madness

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