NBA's in-season tournament championship game set ratings mark not seen in nearly 6 years

Lakers' win over Pacers in inaugural NBA Cup on Saturday in Las Vegas averaged 4.58 million viewers

The NBA in-season tournament championship game was one of the most-watched games in years.

The championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night was the most-watched non-Christmas regular-season game the NBA has had on any network in nearly six years, ESPN announced Tuesday.

The game, which the Lakers won 123-109 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, averaged 4.58 million viewers on ABC and ESPN2. The game peaked at about 5.68 million viewers, and was up 46% from last year’s season opener. The normal broadcast of the game aired on ABC, while an alternate broadcast with comedian Kevin Hart aired on ESPN2 — similar to the “ManningCast” during “Monday Night Football.” That alternate broadcast accounted for about 10% of the total audience.

The Lakers, behind a 41-point, 20-rebound night from Anthony Davis, flew past the Pacers to win the in-season tournament title. LeBron James was the tournament MVP after averaging 26.4 points, eight rebounds and 7.6 assists throughout. He also shot 60.6% from the 3-point line in all seven of the Lakers’ tournament wins. Every Lakers player and coach received a $500,000 bonus for winning the event, and all Pacers players and coaches received $200,000.

The Lakers beat the Pacers to win the inaugural NBA Cup on Saturday night in Las Vegas
The Lakers beat the Pacers to win the inaugural NBA Cup on Saturday night in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As a result of their win, the Lakers announced plans to hang a banner at Arena to commemorate the title. That banner celebrating the NBA Cup will be unveiled Monday.

While there are plenty of ideas on how to improve the in-season tournament in the coming years — some of which are better than others — there’s no doubt the first attempt was a success.