2023 NBA draft sees record ratings, peaks at Wembanyama pick

Spurs draft Victor Wembanyama with No. 1 overall pick (1:52)

Victor Wembanyama shakes hands and poses with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 1 overall pick. (1:52)

NEW YORK -- The selection of 19-year-old basketball sensation Victor Wembanyama by the San Antonio Spurs was must see-TV Thursday night.

The first round of the NBA draft averaged a record 4,928,000 viewers on ESPN and ABC, according to Nielsen. This is the third year that the first round has been on both networks.

It was also the most-viewed program across television for the night.

The audience peaked at 6,085,000 during the first 15 minutes (8-8:15 p.m. ET) when the French phenom was drafted. The first round was also 33% higher compared to 2003, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony were selected. That was also the first year that ESPN began carrying the draft after it had aired on Turner Sports from 1985 through 2002.

Overall, draft coverage for both rounds on ESPN averaged 3,743,000 viewers, a 23% increase over last year.