Just over a month after the Toronto Raptors set a viewership record in their season-opening win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team again shattered a viewership record in its win over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night.
According to TSN's Josh Lewenberg, Thursday night's game was the most-watched Raptors regular season game ever on TSN.
Last night's win over the Warriors was the most-watched Raptors regular season game ever on TSN with 564k viewers. 1.9 million Canadians tuned in to some part of the game. The previous most-watched reg season game was last month's season opener (528k). The Kawhi effect is real.- Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 30, 2018
In addition to the record-breaking audience in Canada, the game was broadcast nationally in America on TNT - one of the Raptors' 27 games this season that will be broadcast to a national TV audience in the United States.
Viewers witnessed an early candidate for game of the year, as Toronto held off the defending champions despite 51 points from back-to-back NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant. The difference Thursday, as indicated by Lewenberg, is that the Raptors now have a Finals MVP of their own in the fold - 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
In the win over Golden State, Leonard led Toronto with 37 points (on 14-for-24 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. Although Durant finished with a season-high in points, Leonard's all-league calibre defence made things difficult for the Warriors' All-Star.
The mystique surrounding Leonard as well as newly-hired head coach Nick Nurse resulted in a wider audience during Oct. 17th's opener, and Leonard's re-emergence as a top-five talent has propelled Toronto's start and drawn even more viewers in.
Through 23 games, the Raptors are off to a franchise-best 19-4 start, not only benefitting from the play of its All-Stars in Leonard and Kyle Lowry but the team as a whole.
As the team continues to jell and improve, more interest should mean more broken records moving forward.