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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors season opener vs. New Orleans Pelicans sets Canadian TV viewership record

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Nearly 3 million Canadians watched Opening Night (NBAE/Getty Images)

As the Toronto Raptors opened the 2019-20 regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, a record-breaking audience tuned in across the country of Canada.

The team announced on Wednesday that 2.6 million viewers watched all or part of the game between the Raptors and Pelicans on Sportsnet ONE, making it the country's most-watched regular-season NBA game ever.

Over the past calendar year, the Raptors have shattered a number of Canadian viewership records - both in the regular season and throughout the team's run to its first-ever NBA title. Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals was the most-watched NBA game ever in Canada, as there was an average audience of 7.7 million viewers across the networks of TSN, CTV and RDS.

20.5 million Canadian viewers watched all or part of the 2019 NBA Finals - a figure that represents 56% of the nation's population.

Tuesday's season opener saw the Raptors receive their championship rings and unveil their banner in the rafters of Scotiabank Arena. The pregame ring ceremony, which also aired on Sportsnet ONE, was a factor in drawing in many of the viewers.

MORE: Raps receive rings, raise banner

With an average audience of 774,000 viewers in Canada, this year's viewership was up 39% from last season's home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers (554,000 viewers), which was the Toronto Raptors debut of Kawhi Leonard.

In addition to the record-breaking audience in Canada, the game was broadcast nationally in America on TNT and is the first of 18 Raptors games that will be broadcast to a national audience in the states.

Viewers were in for a treat as the defending champions began the season with a thrilling overtime win over the up-and-coming Pelicans behind 34 points from both Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

MORE: Siakam, VanVleet come up big in opener

With a number of big games ahead this season, including a Christmas Day meeting with the Boston Celtics, more Canadian viewership records stand to be broken in the 2019-20 NBA season.

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