NBA attendance by year
This analysis contains 49 statistics about attendance and ticket revenue in the NBA.
Total NBA attendance by year
- Since the NBA league started in 1946-47, over 840 million people attended its 60,344 games.
- Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, total annual attendance in NBA arenas went over 20 million for 7 consecutive seasons.
- Since the 2000-01 season, total annual attendance in the NBA went under 20 million only 4 times, 3 of whom were a consequence of lockout or Covid-19 shortened seasons.
- 2016-17 NBA season had historically high attendance, with over 219.9 million fans in the arenas during the regular season.
- Over 671 thousand people visited NBA arenas in the 2020-21 season.
- This is a 96% decrease from the previous season and is a consequence of Covid-19 measures that limited, or completely prevented fans from attending NBA games.
- The first decade of the 21st century had a record NBA attendance with over 209.2 million fans.
- Almost 50% of this audience came since the 2000-01 season.
- Not counting lockout-shortened seasons, the largest jump in annual attendance occurred in the 1995-96 season, the first full season Michael Jordan played after return from the first retirement.
Average NBA attendance by year
- Through 60,344 games and 75 seasons, the average NBA game has been played in front of 13,923 fans.
- Excluding Covid-impacted seasons, the average NBA attendance has been over 17,000 fans since the 2003-04 season.
- Average attendance also never fell under 15,000 fans per game since the 1988-89 season.
- The record season is 2016-17, with an average attendance of 17,884 fans per game.
- 2020-21 season, with limited or no attendance, had only 893 fans per game on average.
- Each of the 7 decades of the league had bigger average attendance than the decade before, speaking with the 2010s with 17,496 fans per game.
NBA attendance by team
Total NBA attendance by team
- The New York Knicks games throughout their 75 years in the league were played in front of 42.87 million people in total, making the Knicks the most-watched NBA team in league history.
- Los Angeles Lakers had 38.14 million fans in the arenas over 67 seasons, the second-highest in league history.
- 7 other NBA teams played in from of over 30 million fans during their time in the NBA.
- As the youngest NBA team, the New Orleans Pelicans' total attendance over 19 seasons stands at 11.48 million fans, the lowest among 30 NBA teams.
- Memphis Grizzlies (15.33 million) and Toronto Raptors (18.6 million) complete the list of NBA teams with under 20 million fans in attendance during their time in the NBA.
|Team||Seasons||Games||Total attendance (million fans)|
|Golden State Warriors||75||2,746||31.35|
|Los Angeles Clippers||51||2,048||25.25|
|Los Angeles Lakers||67||2,583||38.14|
|New Orleans Pelicans||19||752||11.48|
|New York Knicks||75||2,782||42.87|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||54||2,148||30.96|
|Portland Trail Blazers||51||2,044||31.11|
|San Antonio Spurs||51||2,055||29.69|
- Chicago Bulls have been the most-watched NBA team since 2010, having over 8.38 million spectators over the last decade.
- The Bulls are the only NBA franchise with over 8 million spectators in 3 consecutive decades.
- Minnesota Timberwolves played in front of 6.06 million people since 2010, the lowest among 30 teams.
Average NBA attendance by team
- 1,020 games that Toronto Raports played in their home arena through 26 NBA seasons had an average attendance of 18,232 spectators, most among 30 NBA teams.
- Charlotte Hornets are the only other NBA team with over 18,000 fans per game throughout the franchise's history.
- The Atlanta Hawks, over their 70 years in the league, have the average attendance of 10,973 fans per game, the least among all NBA teams.
- The New York Knicks are the only team from the top10 in average attendance that played over 60 seasons in the NBA.
- The Knicks, Lakers, and the Celtics are the only NBA franchises from top20 in average attendance with over 60 seasons in the league.
|Golden State Warriors||75||2,746||11,418|
|Los Angeles Clippers||51||2,048||12,331|
|Los Angeles Lakers||67||2,583||14,766|
|New Orleans Pelicans||19||752||15,265|
|New York Knicks||75||2,782||15,411|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||54||2,148||14,414|
|Portland Trail Blazers||51||2,044||15,221|
|San Antonio Spurs||51||2,055||14,449|
NBA attendance by visiting team
- Since the 2000-01 season, Los Angeles Lakers were the most-watched away team in the NBA. 15.3 million people attended NBA games when the Lakers were visiting.
- The Lakers are the only NBA team with more than 15 million visitors during away games since 2001.
- The Miami Heat were the most-watched away team in the league in 7 seasons since 2001, most among all teams.
- From 2004 to 2019, either the Lakers, the Celtics, the Cavaliers, or the Heat had the highest away attendance in the league.
- During Michel Jordan's 2 seasons with the Wizards, they were 2nd and the most-watched away team in the league, respectively. Before that, they were at no26, and after Jordan's retirement, they fell to no28.
- Even though they've won 4 championships since 2001, the San Antonio Spurs were in top5 in away attendance only once, in the 2013-14 season.
LeBron James's impact on NBA attendance
- In Lebron's rookie season, the Cavaliers were the 2nd most-watched NBA away team, jumping from the 27th spot a season before.
- The Cavaliers remained in top5 in away attendance until 2011, when LeBron left for Miami, and the Cavaliers immediately dropped to the 30th spot in the following season.
- During LeBron's 4 seasons with the Heat, they were the most-watched NBA away team in all 4 of them.
- When LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2015, the Cavs jumped to no1 spot in away attendance, which they repeated in 2017 and 2018, along with the 3rd spot in 2016.
- LeBron's signing with the Lakers in 2019 made them no1 in away attendance in his first season with the team.
- In the same year, the Cavs dropped from no1 spot to no22.
NBA attendance revenue
- Since the 2010-11 season, 30 NBA teams earned over $12.87 billion on ticket sales or $1.17 billion per season.
- The pandemic-impacted 2020-21 NBA season led to a 97% drop in ticket revenue, dropping from $1.37 billion in 2019-20 to $1.55 million.
- The average NBA team in the 2018-19 season earned more from ticket sales than all 30 teams combined did in 2020-21.
- 2018-19 was the record-setting season in terms of ticket revenue in the league, grossing over $1.67 billion in total.
- The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers led the league in ticket revenue in 10 out of the last 11 seasons.
- Knick and the Lakers earned over $100 million from ticket sales 10 times since 2011, while the other 28 teams managed to do that only once (the Warriors in 2018-19).
- These 2 teams alone are responsible for 15% of the total league's ticket revenue since 2011.
- The only team that managed to overthrow Lakers and Knicks were the Golden State Warriors in the 2019-20 season, earning $92.3 million from ticket sales.
- With $204.5 earned from ticket sales since 2011, the Charlotte Hornets hold the last spot in the league in ticket revenue, averaging $18.55 million per season.
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