NBA In-Season Tournament Reaching Audience, Not Sports Bettors Yet

Sportsbooks expect more betting action in knockout stages of NBA's new in-season tournament.

Dec 1, 2023 • 08:40 ET • 4 min read
Kevin Durant NBA Phoenix Suns
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is getting much of what it wants out of the first in-season tournament so far: higher viewership, attendance, and engagement.

When it comes to legal sports betting during group play, maybe not as much. 

Still, the league trumpeted its Nov. 28 game between the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors that averaged two million viewers, the most of any in-season tournament game yet. Viewership was up 93% versus last year’s comparable window. 

Group play games on ESPN and TNT averaged 1.5 million viewers, a 26% increase from last year’s comparable window, and the NBA set a record for November attendance with an average of 18,206 fans per game for the month. 

More than 3.9 billion videos were viewed on the NBA app and social media during November, also a record, and watch time of group play for the NBA Game Pass rose 25% compared to regular-season games from last November. 

Not taking it to the window

Despite not being completely familiar with the tournament process, fans are tuning in to see the flashy courts and their favorite NBA stars, but they aren’t necessarily showing up at the sportsbook windows. 

SuperBook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman told Covers that the retail operator in Las Vegas hasn’t seen a difference in handle or other factors during group play that would differentiate tournament games from regular-season games.

“I think that can and will change now that we are at the quarterfinals and it’s a bit easier to understand going forward than the public going through the new process for the first time with the group-stage games,” Sherman said. 

Odds to win the tourney

The NBA in-season tournament is now down to eight teams, four from each conference. The quarterfinal knockout round will be held on Dec. 5. 

The semifinal winners, which will look to advance on Dec. 7, from the Eastern and Western brackets of the tournament will meet in Las Vegas for the championship on Dec. 9 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

Sherman listed SuperBook’s odds to win the tournament, with the Boston Celtics a 3/1 favorite. The Milwaukee Bucks, another Eastern Conference team, are 7/2 while the Kings have the best odds from the Western Conference at 5/1, followed by the Lakers (11/2), Suns (6/1), and Pelicans (12/1). The Knicks (14/1) and Pacers (16/1) are long shots to come out of the East bracket.  

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