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Kobe Bryant-Centric NBA All-Star Game Sees A Rise in Ratings

Gettyimages | Streeter Lecka
By Adreon Patterson

It's all good news for Turner Sports as its coverage of Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game drew an average of 7.3 million viewers, which as an 8% increase over last year’s game located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The game was simulcasted live on TNT and TBS from Chicago’s United Center. The rating increase made the NBA-affiliated event the night’s most-watched program on all of cable TV on Sunday.

The game wasn't the only to reap ratings rewards as the pregame coverage on TNT averaged 6.3 million viewers overall, up 19% over last year's coverage.

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Gettyimages | Streeter Lecka

The annual midseason showcase capped a full weekend filled with festivities including the well-watched All-Star Saturday Night. The Saturday night event featured several tributes to Kobe Bryant. The nods to the late basketball legend were highlighted by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's rendition of “For All We Know” before tip-off at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT.

Windy City native Hudson was introduced by NBA legend Magic Johnson. He reminded attendees to “come together” as a way to honor Bryant as well as former NBA commissioner David Stern.

Gettyimages | Streeter Lecka

The change in the game's format seemed to spur interest in the NBA showcase as the fourth quarter was open and commercial-free. The broadcasting network mentioned that viewership peaked at 8 million from 11:15-11:30 PM ET as Team LeBron rallied back to beat Team Giannis 157-155.

The new rules allowed each team to enter the fourth quarter playing towards a target score in an untimed final quarter. The score after three quarters was 133-124, favoring Team Giannis. But it was a free throw by Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis sealed the victory for Team LeBron.

Giphy | NBA

As All-Star Weekend began, the NBA announced it would rename the All-Star Game MVP award to the Kobe Bryant MVP Award. Bryant had won the trophy four times during his NBA career. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard took home the award on Sunday.

Ahead of All-Star Saturday Night, Queen Latifah performed a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” and added a rap verse to the song in honor of the late NBA icon: “Give love a shot / When you do, say ‘Kobe’ / 24 hours, eight days a week, trophies.”

Gettyimages | Streeter Lecka

The coverage ended with huge ratings win for the Turner-affiliated network. The Friday-Saturday-Sunday events of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend grew 15% in viewers, compared to last year's events.

TNT can hopefully expect to keep those ratings for next year's All-Star Weekend as the festivities will take place at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The entire All-Star Weekend will span from February 12 to February 14, with the big game airing on Valentine's Day. This will mark TNT's 19th airing of the NBA event.

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