The first round of the NBA Playoffs wrapped up over the weekend, when the Cleveland Cavaliers outpaced the Indiana Pacers in a thrilling Game 7, 105-101.
As we proceed to the second round (already underway in the Western Conference), it’s worth a look back at the teams, players and brands that recorded big wins over the last couple weeks.
Of course, the most notable figure of all has been the Cavs’ LeBron James. Emotion measurement company Canvs compiled Emotional Reactions (ERs) on Twitter during each U.S. broadcast from round one, and “King James” truly lorded over everything after a tough seven-game series.
The NBA generated 1,553,848 ERs in the first round, according to Canvs, and James accounted for 228,248 of those on his own — nearly 15% of the entire total. As a superstar in the league for the past 15 years, James obviously commands a certain amount of conversation in every game. But in these playoffs, as he puts Cleveland on his back (he scored 45 points in the series-clinching win), that becomes even more true. It’s also fueled an enormous number of ERs around the series as a whole.
Cleveland vs. Indiana drove 600,328 ERs in the first round, for an average of 85,761 per game. Both figures were the best of any first round series, and more than double the next-highest matchup (Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz averaged 39,409 ERs over six games). Ranking all 45 first round games by ERs, six different Cavs-Pacers games finished among the top eight (the lone absentee was Indiana’s Game 6 blowout win). That OKC-Utah series was the only other one to make the top of the list. The Cavaliers’ Game 5 win over the Pacers was No. 1 overall, with 151,918 total ERs (more than four entire series amassed).
That sort of performance and social media buzz is a good sign for the NBA, and both the Cavs and LeBron should continue to drive ERs during their second round game against the Toronto Raptors. Of the five teams to generate the most ERs in the first round, the Boston Celtics (45,719) and New Orleans Pelicans (18,005) made it to the conference semifinals. And of the top five players in terms of ERs, only two — James and the Houston Rockets‘ James Harden (23,731) — won their respective series.
There are plenty of names left, even beyond the top line, however. The Cavs, Philadelphia 76ers and Raptors all advanced and are teams six through eight ranked by ERs. Young stars like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell all drove more than 19,000 ERs and all of those players remain in the playoffs as well.
Brands have also made a major impact on the playoffs so far. TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv measured ad impressions for the top brands during live playoff broadcasts and found Burger King out ahead with 566.6 million impressions on seven spots and 288 airings. Taco Bell was second with 488.8 million, followed by American Express, Budweiser and Corona Extra. Burger King and Budweiser’s individual spots also led the way. Budweiser’s “No Sweat” ad had 208.5 million ad impressions, plus a strong 95.55 attention score (out of 100). Attention score measures the propensity of consumers to interrupt an ad play on TV — the higher the score, the more likely consumers aren’t interrupting.
Burger King’s “Bringing the Spice” and “Jackpot” spots were close behind at 204.7 million and 198.6 million ad impressions, respectively. Mountain Dew also continues to run its “Fire and Ice” Super Bowl spot, this time to the tune of 198.3 million impressions. Nissan‘s “Intelligent Mobility” rounded out the top five spots by impressions.
Given the conversation that LeBron drives, it would stand to reason that the Cavs’ games will also command the most eyeballs from fans — something that translates to ad impressions as well. So don’t be surprised to see brands like Burger King and Budweiser continuing to pop up during the NBA Playoffs, and especially during Cleveland’s series against the Raptors.