NBA Ratings Are Down: Why?
When it comes to basketball, the NBA has the be the most popular league or association worldwide. It has 30 teams involved and it’s the premier men’s professional basketball worldwide. The NBA has been around since 1946 but it was still called the Basketball Association of America back then. It became the National Basketball Association in 1949.
While the NBA remains as the most popular basketball league worldwide, a piece on the Athletic by Ethan Strauss revealed that the ratings for the networks that broadcast the matches have declined by 45 percent since the 2011-2012 season.
The NBA has been the favorite of many basketball fans and it’s so easy to understand why this is also the most wagered on basketball league worldwide. Sportsbooks are filled with NBA odds every season. Now, because of the pandemic, this year’s NBA was postponed in March. However, it came back on July 30 and it should end no later than October 13.
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The report on the Athletic also revealed that the games on the TNT are also down by over 40 percent. The rating for ESPN also went down to around 20 percent. This is a bit puzzling because many expected that the NBA’s bubble games will have a greater following. Based on statistics, this isn’t the case and the ratings have been lower than the pre-bubble games.
According to Strauss, there may be a few reasons why the ratings are going down. This could be because of cord-cutting, illegal streams, the rise of Netflix, and other sources of entertainment, and it could also be because of the league’s ties to China.
Strauss was also interviewed by Slate’s Josh Levin to talk about what’s happening to the ratings. Levin asked Strauss why the NBA’s willingness to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement is different from how the league is acting towards China.
Strauss said, “I think it’s completely obvious to people who aren’t in the bubble. You have your most precipitous drop this last year after [the NBA’s response to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s comments about] China.
“I mean an absolute free fall, where you’re losing double digits on the national ratings, double digits on the local ratings. And yeah, maybe you’re never going to be able to prove it to a T that it had something to with China, but that is when the NBA is hitting the news for people who are not necessarily completely engaged.
“And I think that when you talk to a lot of people who aren’t within media, people may be where their politics don’t line up 100 percent with what’s being evinced, yeah, a lot of people are turned off by it. I think that it doesn’t take a lot of imagination. I feel like I’m being put in the position in a way of just explaining the obvious, that gravity exists. And I guess I would say to you, why wouldn’t it have an impact?”
Sports Media Watch also released a report about the decline of the NBA ratings. The report said that the NBA ratings are actually increasing, but only for games in primetime. Sports Media Watch noted that the overall playoff ratings are still down 30 percent from last season.
The report focused on how it is likely that it’s because the NBA has been forced to broadcast the games on weekday afternoons. Unfortunately, this is when TV viewing is typically low, no matter what the program is, and this is especially the case during the summer.
Additionally, the dearth of primetime games thus far, no game has been aired yet on the network ABC, unlike how it was last year at the same point of the season, according to Sports Media Watch.
This season’s primetime games have an overall average of 2.74 million viewers. That is 16 percent more than what the first Thursday of 2019 playoffs had. It does appear that the primetime games are the ones that tip-off as it is broadcasted later than 8 PM on the weekdays and 7 PM on the weekends.
Based on the report, it’s the afternoon and early evening games that have lower ratings with an average of 1.28 viewers in the early playoffs. However, the LA Lakers’ Game 2 win over Portland Trail Blazers broadcasted on ESPN had an average rating of 1.9 which is an average of about 2.94 million viewers.