Don’t Listen to the Media, the NBA Finals Tanked Again

NBA media got angry last year when a few writers covered the disastrous ratings for the NBA Finals. They claimed you couldn’t compare an out-of-season event during a global pandemic to past seasons. Interestingly though, those same media members have constantly compared this season’s viewership to last season.

The change of heart is not hypocrisy, it’s desperation. Viewers’ interest in the NBA is so low that ESPN has now decided to count last season’s ratings after all.

Here’s why:

Had sports media writers stuck with its mindset that last year didn’t count in the ratings books, they’d have to admit that Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals averaged 8.56 million viewers on ABC, a 35% collapse from Game 1 in 2019.

Keep in mind, the media also told us that 2019 barely counted because the Raptors weren’t a USA team. So if 2019 tanked, what’s the word for 2021?

Please, let us know.

Oh, Game 1 is down 50% from Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. Might be noteworthy.

As a result of the mess, ESPN took a break from bowing to Maria Taylor’s outrageous salary demands and sent out this disingenuous spin-job:

Imagine bragging about getting 8.5 million viewers for the NBA Finals on ABC.

Because of the NBA’s epic collapse over the past few years, it’s become common for the NBA media to mislead its readers and viewers.

At the start of the season, The Associated Press put a story on its homepage bragging that the NBA’s opening week was up 95% in viewership year over year. That sounded good, until it was exposed as disingenuous. The story failed to note that the calendar didn’t line up. In 2019, the season tipped off on October 22, 2019. However, due to COVID-19 rescheduling, the 2020 season tipped on December 23, 2020, meaning its opening week included an event known as Christmas Day, the NBA’s top-rated regular-season event.

Oh, so ratings didn’t bounce back, the gullible realized.

So, which is it, NBA? Are we going to count 2020’s all-time low ratings, or should we skip 2020 and compare the Finals to the past few seasons?

The choice is yours. Either way, the numbers show that your league is tanking at an unbelievable rate.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. I was amazed that all the players stood for the anthem, some even had their hands over their hearts. I also got a good chuckle that the entire crowd in Phoenix was lilly white. I think LeFraud being absent also probably gave them a small uptick.

    • They realized telling people who love America to go away is bad for business. So now they’re trying to get us back.

      It won’t work. I left and I’m not coming back. Neither are the 50% who LeFraud James told to go away are coming back.

      NBA made its bed when they let LeFraud be their mouthpiece. Now they have to sleep in it.

  2. Yeah, I caught that when Cowherd admonished “conservative media” for not covering the ratings improvement. The improvement being from the worst ratings, by far, in decades. That’s selectivity at its best, not exactly the whole picture.

    • Really?

      The ratings are in the tank because basketball is not really a “sport” anymore. Let’s be honest, it’s actually quite boring.

      NO ONE plays defense and it all about “The Dunk.’ As if a 7-foot tall man with a 4-foot reach goes up ONLY 10 feet to put a 12″ ball into a 24” hole is somehow impressive… Athletically, is equivalent to the “average dude” putting a 6″ ball into 12″ hoop only 8-ft off the ground – athletics is about people doing things with their bodies that are almost “super-human.” Basketball is just grown men on a little league field.

      And every morning in the gym, one of the Televisions is tuned to ESPN showing last nights “monster jams,” which look almost identical the previous night’s “Tomahawk slams”…. AND THE fans going nuts in the stands.. I seriously question their sanity!

  3. NBA product is bad, players are hard to root for…makes it hard to watch…and all the political nonsense accelerated the lack of interest. I guess they’ll find a home in China

  4. Well the one man wrecking crew known as the queen said if you don’t like it don’t watch can you imagine saying something like that what a complete ignorant fool.So we are just taking that jackass advice and not watching or supporting in any way.

  5. Have lived in Phoenix for 37 years. Use to be a Suns fan. Completely lost interest in the NBA over the last few years. Wouldn’t watch if Sarver paid me.
    Memo: TO: Adam Silver: Keep up the good work. You’re a genius.

  6. This season’s finals DON’T COUNT because there is not a Major Market team involved. Silly boys. Everyone knows THAT!

    50,000,000 ,000 Chinese don’t know what a Phoenix or Milwaukee is. Those are the two teams … right? BTW, who won the NCAA Finals this year? I wasn’t paying attention.

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