NBA Ratings Slump; Does the NBA have a problem?

Kliq

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As has been mentioned many times this season, viewership for NBA games on television are down from last season, pretty significantly. A telling sign came earlier this week, when the Saturday primetime game on ABC between the Lakers and Houston was down 10 percent in the ratings and 14 percent in viewership from the same matchup last season, even though LeBron didn't play in that game and the Lakers were horrible. Some more info here: https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2020/01/nba-ratings-decline-lakers-rockets-celtics-abc-tnt/

As a whole, viewership is down somewhere between 15 and 20 percent for nationally televised games from the previous season. This is at a rate higher than the year-over-year loss in cable subscribers, so it isn't all cord-cutters. So why is viewership down? Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo talked about this on their podcast earlier this week, and brought up some interesting possible factors. What do you think the problem is, and do you think this is a significant problem for the league moving forward?

Here are some potential factors:

1. LeBron Moves West. Lebron going to the Lakers, a team that historically always proved popular on national television even when they suck and leaving Cleveland, who are certainly not ratings draws without LeBron, hurts the depth of marketable teams in the league. However, this wouldn't explain the difference in the ratings drop since last year, since LeBron played for the Lakers last season as well.

2. Big Market Teams Suck. Some of the biggest market teams have been underwhelming this season. Out of the top ten TV markets in the US, five of them (New York, Chicago, Bay Area, Washington DC and Atlanta) are home to the worst teams in the league. Under-performing teams in Phoenix (11th biggest market), Detroit (14th) and the twin cities (15th) and there is a problem with the larger market teams sucking.

3. Injuries. The NBA loaded up the schedule with two teams, the ratings stalwart Warriors and the Zion-led Pelicans. However, injuries have basically zapped all the star power from those teams, leading to a bunch of bad matchups for nationally televised games. To a lesser extent, injuries have also likely hurt some other potential draws in Brooklyn, Portland and Detroit.

4.Rest/Regular Season Fatigue. Players don't take the regular season that seriously, it is too long and often times key players will sit out games, which hurts the overall star power of the league on a night-to-night basis. Fans also have been somewhat conditioned to disregard a lot of what happens in the regular season, so they are tuning out more and more.

5. Player movement. Historically, teams that have been relevant for a long period of time tend to draw viewership. The Warriors were not a ratings bonanza until they started collected rings. With players moving more frequently, particularly all-stars and MVP candidates, it is harder to keep marketable teams together for years at time, which hurts their long-term ability to become major ratings draws for networks.

6. Social Media League. The NBA has gotten a lot of deserved credit for embracing social media and skyrocketing its pop culture relevancy through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. However, the flip side of all that may be that some fans no longer feel obligated to watch the games, and that the real entertainment value of the NBA comes from what you can see on your phone. Particularly during the regular season, people are more likely to be interested in a crazy dunk, potential trades, off-court drama, etc. None of which requires fans to actually watch the games on television.

7. Lack of stylistic diversity. This is something that Simmons and Russillo both mentioned and is perhaps the most interesting factor. With so many teams trying to shoot as many threes as possible, and playing very similarly, it may be turning some fans off of the game. I know a lot of older fans who really don't like how everyone shoots so many threes, regardless of it being the analytically correct thing to do. With so many teams now adopting this approach, it may have bored some fans, and the league needs a greater diversity of playing styles and strategies to keep fans entertained throughout the regular season.

One thing to note is that attendance has been very strong, as has merchandise sales. Fans are still interested in the NBA, but they are not watching it on television as frequently. Given that a bulk of league revenue comes from television, it remains a vital aspect of the league and the decline in viewership will have to be addressed.
 

Devizier

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6. Social Media League. The NBA has gotten a lot of deserved credit for embracing social media and skyrocketing its pop culture relevancy through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. However, the flip side of all that may be that some fans no longer feel obligated to watch the games, and that the real entertainment value of the NBA comes from what you can see on your phone. Particularly during the regular season, people are more likely to be interested in a crazy dunk, potential trades, off-court drama, etc. None of which requires fans to actually watch the games on television.
I think the biggest factor is this; the NBA is building its brand on a younger audience, one that does not subscribe to expensive cable packages. And NBA games are primarily broadcast via these packages.
 

lars10

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I think the biggest factor is this; the NBA is building its brand on a younger audience, one that does not subscribe to expensive cable packages. And NBA games are primarily broadcast via these packages.
Also you can find every game on Reddit or similar online via some stream that probably isn’t (or can’t be) counted.
 

Kliq

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I think the biggest factor is this; the NBA is building its brand on a younger audience, one that does not subscribe to expensive cable packages. And NBA games are primarily broadcast via these packages.
Right, but the problem is that major sports leagues are not making very much money off of the amount of social media followers they have. I know more about it in wrestling and that WWE has 54 million subscribers on YouTube (by comparison, the NBA has 13 million) and in their quarterly reports they don't even mention it individually as a revenue source (it just gets lumped into their "other media" category") so it isn't making them any real money. Perhaps the NBA is different but I doubt it. Social media is great for generating exposure for stuff, but until Netflix or Amazon are forking over $24 billion to the NBA to broadcast the games, cable subscribers are still going to be the bread and butter for the league. One day those streaming services may make that kind of investment, but even so the current TV deal runs through the 2024-2025 season, so this is an issue that isn't going to be going away anytime soon.
 

InstaFace

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I think the proof will be in the playoff ratings numbers. If there's a dip, that's probably worth worrying over; if not, maybe it's just a matter of #3 first and there are approaches you can take to mitigate that. The in-season tournament, or tweaks to playoff qualification or format, could find ways to make the regular season more relevant while not forcing teams to avoid rest considerations.
 

lovegtm

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I would say the league has more stylistic diversity than at any point I can remember. The 3-point bonanza mostly comes from increased star stepbacks and role players spotting up deeper.

I freely admit that the casual fan may have a harder time seeing that diversity though.

Another marginal issue: for some unfathomable reason, the league’s TV partners, who have a strong vested interest in promoting the league, employ commentators who almost uniformly slander the on-court product. The stupidity boggles the mind, especially compared with the NFL.
 

Kliq

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One other thing about young people/cord-cutters is that when people talk about them, they don't always factor in that most people who are cord-cutters still subscribe to some form of television provider, and most if not all of those (Sling, YouTubeTV, Playstation Vue, Fubo, etc.) would still be factored into television ratings, as are if you are watching on the TNT or WatchESPN apps. My house for example, are people in their 20s and we cut the cord last year, but switched to Sling and still get ESPN, TNT and all the other major cable stations. We also have a broadcast antenna that picks up the network stations as well; so we are still watching television, even if we are not considered cable subscribers.
 

ifmanis5

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They lost their Super Team.
Bandwagon neutral fans love Super Teams like the Dubs and fans tune in to watch their own team try to beat them. The Dubs have been a public team for years with high visibility and a huge marketing push. Losing that overnight leaves a huge gap.
Losing Durant and Curry to injury doesn't really help either.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Another issue is the pre-season prime time scheduling of teams like Golden State and New Orleans, who the league thought would bring viewers with Curry and Zion.
 

bankshot1

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The NBA might be caught in a line shift as fickle viewers are faced with a league somewhat dependent upon older or injured stars for marketing (LBJ, Curry, Durant, KI, Embiid, Zion), waiting for new stars to emerge, smaller market teams (Bucks, Miami Toronto, Utah, Denver, LA-B-team) in the ascendency, as Golden State got nailed, and viewers have not made their rooting choices yet.
 
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bowiac

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I think the biggest factor is this; the NBA is building its brand on a younger audience, one that does not subscribe to expensive cable packages. And NBA games are primarily broadcast via these packages.
Taking this from Ben Thompson, if this is really the explanation, it still points to an underlying demand problem for the NBA. Live sports is one of the things that's supposed to keep the cable bundles together. That's how the NBA is able to extract those massive TV deals in the first place. TNT pays the NBA, in part so TNT can in turn demand money from cable providers to carry TNT.

Insofar as the ratings are falling because young fans don't think access to watching the NBA is worth the hassle of a cable package, then that's just as big a problem as if young fans still had access to the games but just weren't watching. Both point to an underlying weakness in the product's marketability, and fan demand for the product.

I don't have a deep take about what's causing the decline (although a toxic set of announcers who spend all their time bemoaning the quality of the product would be my pick), but the cord cutting explanation isn't really enough here.
 

lovegtm

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Everyone, myself included, likes to list lots of factors and gripes.

However, if you were God of the NBA, and you could make one, but only one, substantive change to increase ratings sustainably, what would it be?
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Are the ratings numbers for domestic ratings only, or international too? The linked article didn’t specify that I saw. I wonder if the Hong Kong kerfuffle has any impact, either in China, or even in the US by anyone who didn’t like how that went down. For me, personally, this was the first time in a few years that I didn’t get League Pass, in part because that was ongoing while I was trying to decide whether or not to renew.
 

Kliq

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I would say the league has more stylistic diversity than at any point I can remember. The 3-point bonanza mostly comes from increased star stepbacks and role players spotting up deeper.
I think the real problem is not that star players, like Curry, Harden, Lillard, etc. are taking a lot of three pointers, but that so many other teams are mimicking that type of playing style, but lack the star power/talent to do it. This occurred to me during the New Orleans/San Antonio game on Wednesday, it was horrible basketball outside of one Zion stretch in the fourth quarter. It was a lot of E'Twuan Moore, Frank Jackson, Nico Melli, Patty Mills, Derrick White, Marco Belinelli, Josh Hart, etc. just chucking it from deep.
 

bowiac

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Fire all the announcers who tell the viewers for 2 hours a night how bad the product is compared to the 80s and 90s, and bring in in some announcers who enjoy the modern game. Cris Collinsworth good. Joe Morgan bad.
 

benhogan

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Another marginal issue: for some unfathomable reason, the league’s TV partners, who have a strong vested interest in promoting the league, employ commentators who almost uniformly slander the on-court product. The stupidity boggles the mind, especially compared with the NFL.
Ha. This is funny and true. Charles, Shaq, Mark Jackson, JVG take a fair amount of shots at the modern game/players.
Keeping fossils like Hubie Brown and Marv Albert around doesn't help either.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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I think the proof will be in the playoff ratings numbers. If there's a dip, that's probably worth worrying over; if not, maybe it's just a matter of #3 first and there are approaches you can take to mitigate that. The in-season tournament, or tweaks to playoff qualification or format, could find ways to make the regular season more relevant while not forcing teams to avoid rest considerations.
I agree. I think a lot of it is point #5. The NBA regular season seems more meaningless every year. 82 games is too many.
 

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Are young people fans of any sports teams any more? Feels like there are many different things for them to be involved with. And if they aren't growing up with the local cable package in the house, they aren't going to be passionate fans of their local team.
 

IdiotKicker

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6. Social Media League. The NBA has gotten a lot of deserved credit for embracing social media and skyrocketing its pop culture relevancy through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. However, the flip side of all that may be that some fans no longer feel obligated to watch the games, and that the real entertainment value of the NBA comes from what you can see on your phone. Particularly during the regular season, people are more likely to be interested in a crazy dunk, potential trades, off-court drama, etc. None of which requires fans to actually watch the games on television.
I think the biggest factor is this; the NBA is building its brand on a younger audience, one that does not subscribe to expensive cable packages. And NBA games are primarily broadcast via these packages.
Anecdotal, but there's something here. For the last few years, I was part of Big Brother Big Sister, with my little brother as a age 11-13 year-old boy. HUUUUUGE basketball fan, as were most of the kids in the neighborhood he hung out with. Any time I saw him, I would ask him and any friends of his if they watched any of the big games from the last week or two. Every single time, I got the same answer - "Nope, I just watched the highlights on YouTube." I'm sure there's a way for the NBA to spin this into additional revenue and so forth, and I do wonder if they'll grow out of this as they get older and have a longer attention span, but it was something I found pretty telling.
 

InstaFace

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Everyone, myself included, likes to list lots of factors and gripes.

However, if you were God of the NBA, and you could make one, but only one, substantive change to increase ratings sustainably, what would it be?
Omniscient officiating.

No but seriously, my answer is league expansion. Add another 10 teams, each of them will be massively profitable and half of them will be the only show in town when it comes to professional sports. Any business worth a damn in Sacramento has a box or a suite with the Kings, likewise the Spurs and San Antonio, etc. They're already doubled-down in NY and LA, but there are another 20-30 markets that could easily support an NBA team; the threshold simply isn't that high and the local political and business leaders will bend over backwards for them in a way that bigger cities just won't (anymore).

Edit: N.B., gate receipts are only ~25% of total NBA revenue (vs ~40% for MLB), so it's local TV deals that are the most lucrative asset. If you're the only show in town, that leverage goes way up.
 
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Marciano490

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As a super casual fan, I like the new 3-point heavy style. It seems to my untrained eye like the ball moves more, the court is more spread, and there are fewer plays they’re just dudes traveling, getting hacked, and going to the line.

That was what turned me off basketball earlier.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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They lost their Super Team.
Bandwagon neutral fans love Super Teams like the Dubs and fans tune in to watch their own team try to beat them. The Dubs have been a public team for years with high visibility and a huge marketing push. Losing that overnight leaves a huge gap.
Losing Durant and Curry to injury doesn't really help either.
I think this is the problem.

Well, not that they lost their Super Team but that the stars are dispersed throughout the league rather than concentrated. Not only do fans love superteams but it's lot easier to follow the league.

Maybe I am generalizing from my experience but on any given night there are usually a couple of compelling matchups between stars and it's hard to choose between them so I end up not watching anything.

Also, with the stars concentrated, it's easy to follow one team. But this season, there are multiple teams that could be in the championship so it's hard to pick a team and follow.

Playoffs should be insane. Will be interesting to see how ratings are.
 

johnmd20

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Everyone, myself included, likes to list lots of factors and gripes.

However, if you were God of the NBA, and you could make one, but only one, substantive change to increase ratings sustainably, what would it be?
Load management might be a contributing factor. Not because the stars aren't playing, although that doesn't help. But if the players are saying, "Regular season games matter so little, I am literally going to sit out quite a few games just so I can rest," it signals to the fans that the games don't matter.

If the games don't matter, because the player's actions are saying so, why should the fans care?
 

tims4wins

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Guys, announcers aren't why people aren't watching. That's ridiculous.

It's almost all on a combination of social media / cord cutting, with a sprinkling of some of the stars being injured.

It's an interesting point though about watching "highlights only". The NFL doesn't seem to have that problem, but it's only a once a week sport, mostly played during the day.
 

bowiac

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Guys, announcers aren't why people aren't watching. That's ridiculous.
Why is it ridiculous to think people telling you the product you're watching is terrible is going to decrease short and long term interest in the product?
 

cornwalls@6

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The lack of a polarizing, super team seems viable to me. For all the talk of Patriots fatigue, the rating for the AFCCG was I believe, down from last year. And I'll be very curious to see the super bowl rating. Golden State seemed like that great, but maddening to some, team that provided the proverbial water cooler topic for the league. I've long cooled on the league, after being a pretty passionate fan of it in the 80's and 90's, but a few years ago, when the Celtics won a late season game against the Warriors in their historic season, I was absolutely riveted to that game. I think the lack of any compelling regular season story line like that definitely hurts. As @InstaFace noted, the playoffs will really tell the tale.
 

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Why is it ridiculous to think people telling you the product you're watching is terrible is going to decrease short and long term interest in the product?
Because the announcers don’t matter. They don’t matter in the NFL or any other sport. The product matters.
 

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Everyone, myself included, likes to list lots of factors and gripes.

However, if you were God of the NBA, and you could make one, but only one, substantive change to increase ratings sustainably, what would it be?
Cut 20 games from the regular season.
 

jon abbey

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I used to be an insane NBA fan for many years, League Pass, watching literally every playoff game in every series, etc. But the season is at least 2 months too long for me, it’s so hard to care about games in November when pretty much every competent team makes the postseason and the real games don’t start until May.
 

AMS25

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Another marginal issue: for some unfathomable reason, the league’s TV partners, who have a strong vested interest in promoting the league, employ commentators who almost uniformly slander the on-court product. The stupidity boggles the mind, especially compared with the NFL.
This is certainly not the case with local feeds -- the Thunder announcers are such homers, I can't watch them with the sound on.
 

benhogan

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Networks are dumb? MNF doesn’t suck because of Booger Macfarland, it sucks because the games suck. Did CBS suffer ratings with Phil Simms as its #1 analyst?
Clearly the Ad Agencies have it all wrong.

The next State Farm ad should show the agent berating the client after a car accident.

The NBA announcers aren't the sole reason for the ratings drop, but they are not helping the cause.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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This is certainly not the case with local feeds -- the Thunder announcers are such homers, I can't watch them with the sound on.
I think lovegtm is referring to national broadcasts. It was certainly the case with the first Zion game where we got the Van Gundy & Jackson comedy hour and where they discussed everything but the game. Well, they were snickering about Williamson's extra weight too.

Then, last night, the TNT crew just absolutely crapped on the Dallas @ Portland game at the half.

On one hand, I like that the NBA doesn't require their talking heads to stick to the company narrative. On the other hand, having Charles Barkley, who is amusing but often very wrong, do his "OK, Boomer" shtick about too many threes is tiresome. This is the game today and complaining about it doesn't change anything or make the viewing experience better.

On the overall topic, I get how all of the factors upthread plus others have kept viewership down this year. I wonder what happens at the ASB and beyond when the competition for eyeballs goes down excepting hockey, college hoops and spring training baseball. I suspect that as we approach the playoffs that the ratings will bounce.

That said, in following NBA Twitter, its does seem like a lot of younger viewers watch highlights and not the games. If any of the major sports leagues can figure out how to make that work for them, its the NBA. People may not agree with everything they are doing with regards to the style of play etc but the league clearly cares about making the product more accessible.
 

j-man

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how to fix the nba

1 less games 82 is way too many give the owners $ for 82 games but have a 66/68 game season over 6/7 months
2 less playoff teams 5 in each conference wouild be great wouild give the 1 seed a bye in round 1
3 a 4 point shot at haifcourt
4 TNT gets the finals and both EAST West finals in exchange NBC/NBCSN gets more reg season games every night a game is on TNT/NBATV/OR NBCSN with NBC getting weekends all-star and the best playoff matchups of rounds 1/2
 

Kliq

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So for everyone saying that things will bounce back in the playoffs; even if that is the case, Turner and ESPN did not shell out $24 billion for just the postseason games, the networks need the regular season to do well too. Given the sheer number of games they broadcast from the regular season, the regular season numbers are actually significantly more important than the post-season viewership. They will need to do something to increase interest in the regular season. I also don't see them shortening the season; a major sports league to my knowledge hasn't cut down their season in over a hundred years and there is a reason for that. The value comes from the sheer number of games that are produced.

The announcer point is interesting. I agree with Dejesus that I do like that the announcers don't praise the league all the time, and while Chuck and the TNT guys definitely have some shtick, they are also the most relevant studio show in American sports. When they go after somebody, like when they all shit on Embiid earlier this season, that seems to end up being much more newsworthy than whatever Terry Bradshaw, or Shannon Sharpe said.

Some of the guys like JVG and Jackson I just think are bad commentators, but I don't think they do any significant long term damage to the league. If they are criticizing the style of play they are not turning anyone off that wasn't already disinterested in the modern style of basketball.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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To be clear, I don't think the announcers, regardless of what they are saying, are the reason that ratings are down. That said, when the TNT team is lamenting too many threes to a national audience, I think it reinforces a casual viewer's decision not to devote more time to the league.

In short, I don't think they are scaring viewers away as much as their comments aren't promoting the sport. Its a subtle distinction and its just my theory.
 

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As a casual fan the volume of 3s is not an issue for me. The combination of long season / youtube highlights / load management / regular season not mattering are the primary factors.
 

The Social Chair

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This occurred to me during the New Orleans/San Antonio game on Wednesday, it was horrible basketball outside of one Zion stretch in the fourth quarter. It was a lot of E'Twuan Moore, Frank Jackson, Nico Melli, Patty Mills, Derrick White, Marco Belinelli, Josh Hart, etc. just chucking it from deep.
NBA rosters have much more talent now than during the during the 1997 - 2003 stretch. That was the dark ages of the NBA both talent wise and stylistically.

My thoughts on the ratings slump.

1) Natural regression. I think 2008 - 2018 was a golden age for the NBA ratings wise. You had the Pierce/Kobe/KG/Dirk/Duncan generation in their twilight, the Lebron/Wade/Melo generation in their prime, and the Curry/Durant/Harden generation in their ascendency.

In 2020 the Kobe era is retired, Lebron is only guy left from his generation, and Curry/Durant are injured and Harden has become unwatchable.

2) New star problem. The biggest new stars are Giannis and Luka and they have the MLB problem of English not being their first language. Kawhi and The Brow are duds as charismatic sports stars. Being in LA won't fix that for them. The NBA needs stars more than any other sport.

There is a lot of pressure for Zion to be healthy and be transformative. His debut was the highest rated non christmas game this year on ESPN. He has Jordan and Lebron potential as a ratings draw.

BTW The NBA should move the Pelicans to Vegas or Seattle ASAP. Having Zion play in front of a half empty arena in his 2nd home game was disgraceful.

3) lack of super teams. Unlike the NFL, it seems the casual NBA fan actually likes having a top heavy NBA. They see parity as mediocrity.

4) bad injury luck. People said the NFL was in ratings trouble 3 years ago but it was really because there were a lot of QB injuries that year and Mahomes and Jackson hadn't arrived yet.

The NBA will rebound next year if Curry, Durant, Klay, and Zion are healthy.
 
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MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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What about ratings for local broadcasters? Is it only the national numbers that are down?

For me, basketball is like baseball - I only watch the Cs and Sox. I would never just watch a basketball game against two random teams, whether it was Lebron or whoever. It's about rooting for the laundry.

Didn't baseball go through this same evolution, from a national sport to a regional one? Is it possible that's just what we're seeing, as the internet and a million channels makes everything more niche?
 

Devizier

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...regular season not mattering are the primary factors.
This is also a factor. Teams are increasingly using the Popovich approach towards load management, which makes sense because it's so successful. And it's great when the Celtics' backups pull out a win like last night but most teams aren't capable of sustained good/great play when their best players are missing 25% of the games.
 

lovegtm

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The current NBA product blows away other sports products for me because:
1. Nearly all action is visible on one camera angle
2. Nearly all action is relevant to the play's outcome (including on the weak-side, far off-ball when an offensive threat triggers a reaction, etc).
3. There's a strong amount of in-game stylistic diversity that has to be dynamically analyzed as teams try different approaches that trigger chain effects (on the flip side, once I realized that baseball was literally watching a die being rolled, over and over, I couldn't unsee it)

Is any of this stuff a positive for the median fan?

For example, my dad is an extremely intelligent person who also watches a lot of sports, but when he watches basketball he's almost exclusively watching on-ball action, direct passes, and the result of the play.

That style of viewing is more rewarding when the game consists of highly skilled players isolating or running simple actions than when it's about creating space, triggering rotations, etc.

I have counter-anecdotes of friends/family recently becoming hardcore fans, but they're not a large target market: 30-something smart/nerdy guys with lots of free time (basically all of NBA Twitter?).
 

Marciano490

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Were the end of games always so long and determinative? Again, I'm a super casual fan, but it seems to me that for awhile now only the last 2-3 minutes really matter, but they can take like 10-15 minutes of real time to play out.
 

lovegtm

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Were the end of games always so long and determinative? Again, I'm a super casual fan, but it seems to me that for awhile now only the last 2-3 minutes really matter, but they can take like 10-15 minutes of real time to play out.
To answer the question and the implied question:
1. Yeah, they were always that long. I remember complaining about this in the 90s.

2. Do only the last 2-3 minutes matter? Na—it feels that way because of runs, but if you’re up by 10 in the 2nd quarter, your win probability is a lot higher than if you are tied.

This does get to my point about the casual/hardcore fan gap: if lots of casual fans FEEL like only the last 3 minutes matter, that’s a problem for the league.
 

Marciano490

Urological Expert
SoSH Member
Nov 4, 2007
42,620
To answer the question and the implied question:
1. Yeah, they were always that long. I remember complaining about this in the 90s.

2. Do only the last 2-3 minutes matter? Na—it feels that way because of runs, but if you’re up by 10 in the 2nd quarter, your win probability is a lot higher than if you are tied.

This does get to my point about the casual/hardcore fan gap: if lots of casual fans FEEL like only the last 3 minutes matter, that’s a problem for the league.
Yeah, I'm just going based purely of feel. To me it also seems like the game is more about drawing fouls now than being fouled while legitimately trying to score, and that slows down the pace and also seems a bit like gaming the system to me. Again, that's purely one uninformed man's opinion.

The other issue - if you're a star-based league and you don't have likeable stars, it can be really annoying for the viewer. I still sports-hate LeBron, but I used to generally dislike him and if every broadcast features references and ads with him or Kobe (who I hate hate) or other players you're not really into, it gets kind of exhausting.

Like, the NFL is much more enjoyable now that I don't have to see Peyton Manning's face like 10 times every Sunday even when I'm not watching his games or hear announcers waxing over his greatness.

Overexposure is fine if you have a Shaq or Magic or Jordan, but I don't know if the sport has anyone with that combination of skill and magnetism who isn't also on a team I strongly dislike (I know that's arbitrary).