NBA Finals Ratings Sink to All-Time Lows

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The NBA took another L Wednesday. This time, in the NBA Finals on ABC with the Lakers and LeBron James.

Only 7.41 million viewers watched the industry-hyped matchup. Per Sports Media Watch, this is the least-watched Finals opener since … on record.

Game 1 is down an unheard of 44% from last year’s matchup, which featured a team from Canada. During last year’s Finals tank-job, media members yelled “one team is from Canada,” and “there is no LeBron.”

Ahh, I see.

The NBA is taking tanking to never-before-seen depths. If LeBron and the Lakers in the Finals can’t save this collapse — nothing will. This is the best-case scenario. Imagine these numbers when the Nuggets finally win the West and the media has to push that over the NFL.

Compared to 2018, the last Finals with LeBron, Game 1 is down 58%. That kind of slide is what gets TV shows canceled and showrunners chased out of the business.

Adam Silver complained a few years ago too many NBA games were on cable. Looking at the data, he may want to keep it that way so he has an excuse.

Since 2012, viewership for the NBA on ABC resembles a former yearly revenue chart at Blockbuster headquarters. From 2012 to 2020, broadcast NBA ratings are down 45%. In simple terms: horrific.

Due to self-destruction, the NBA is a mess. The politicization of professional basketball puts ESPN’s Mark Jones’ left-wing Twitter to shame.

The league is more hypocritical than the participants in Tuesday’s debate. Led by social justice warrior LeBron James, the NBA players who claim to put human rights ahead of their dollars are still earning millions from the Chinese Communist Party.

No comment,” that’s how LeBron responded to the shooting of two police officers in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, LeBron is changing America — literally. His organization is texting random Florida citizens to pay for felons to vote (for Joe Biden) in the upcoming election.

He should be paying for their overdue cable bills.

It is not only the players. The broadcasters involved appeared to be auditioning for some new radical news network that no one will watch. A sports fan can’t turn on an NBA broadcast without random pundits presenting subjective worldviews as indisputable facts.

In the middle of a halftime show, Jalen Rose yelled, “arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.” Per Jalen Rose, he is more equipped to charge citizens than our legal system.

Where does the NBA turn to save its ratings? Nowhere. It will take years to undo and identity that only welcomes those with the same extreme views based on everything but facts. Which, clearly, isn’t that many people.

CC: Mark Cuban.

Follow Bobby Burack on Twitter @burackbobby_.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest media topics as well as trending sports, cultural and political stories.

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcast and radio stations.

Previously, Burack was a writer at The Big Lead where he covered similar topics. He also hosted an eponymous podcast where he interviewed several personalities such as Joe Tessitore, and Adam Schefter.


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    • Cubes was proud of his demo ratings in his exchange with Travis. Mark I am not in your target group so losing me as a fan should not concern you. It looks like you are a slave to China and your radical players. Begging for the China $$$ is not a good look. I am looking forward to a cut in the salary cap to wake the “woke” up.

  1. Guessing the dumba$$ NBA players do not realize they are cutting their own (financial) throats. Lower TV ratings means lower TV revenue for NBA and players that share in that revenue. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of morons.

  2. NBA is liberal America in all its glory. Puffed up by the media to be something it isn’t – mainstream. Popular – it isn’t.
    Right side of history – please it isn’t.
    Cool hip and trendsetting – it isn’t.
    Rocket ride to niche city – it is.
    LeBron is your point man and who you look at to lead the way. Man can ball but cannot lead any movement to a better place. He’s too pissed off, maybe at his absent dad. Just plain pissed with all the USA has provided and still pissed. What is this lost 1/2 billionaire looking to accomplish?
    You’re stacked with cash and your lost as a puppy in the forest.
    Also, China leadership hates everyone of color.

  3. Nice job, Bobby.
    Adam Silver made a comment before Game 1 that he’s aware many people look to sports as a “respite” from life’s garbage dumpster, and that he’s “listening” to those people too. Obviously not enough. He’s letting his overly emotional players, running without facts and ignorant of stats, attack law enforcement and — most recently in the B. Taylor case — rail against our criminal justice/grand jury system. You might expect Silver and players union boss Michelle Roberts, both of whom are lawyers, to tell the players that’s going too far.
    But nope, nary a word.
    They’d rather indulge the angry, low-info players than deal in truth. And when the “systemic racism” crap begins, they’re letting those players blame the majority of NBA’s customers (by skin color) for all sorts of stuff that is untrue and never gets specified.
    Nice business model, NBA.

  4. Did you notice anything in the linked to Sports Media Watch piece? It failed to even mention the POSSIBILITY that political preaching played a role in the ratings decline of sports across the board, much less the NBA. The truth will strike the players, owners, commissioner or feckless sports media when fans don’t return once the NBA returns to its normal schedule (probably for the 2021-22 season).

  5. I think the problem is even worse for the NBA than this article states. Here are the other shows on notable networks that the game was up against:

    CBS: Some show called ‘Love Island’
    NBC: A repeat of ‘Ellen’s Game of Games’
    ESPN: A ‘playoff’ baseball game between the Yanks and Indians

    Also, looks like WWE, AEW, a show called ‘Dodgeball Thunderdome, as well as a show called ‘Extreme Ice Machines’ were on at that time. My main point here is that the NBA has never had, in my estimation, less competition for viewers than it does now, and it’s STILL down in huge numbers. Remember when we were living through the glorious times of ‘peak TV’ a couple years ago? When there were binge-worthy TV shows all over your cable system? When Netflix and HBO were en fuego with original programming? Outside of ‘Tiger King’ and ‘The Last Dance’, when has something on any of the networks or streaming services grabbed national attention during the pandemic? Nobody is putting out decent programming at the moment because everything is shut down. As I think I have demonstrated, they have no real competition for eyeballs, and yet, people are simply not tuning in. The explanations, especially from Mark Cuban, remind me of that scene in ‘Anchorman’ when Vince Vaughan’s news crew confronts Ron Burgundy’s news crew, and Ron’s killer blow is how they’re beating Vaughan’s character’s network in the ratings, and Vaughan’s comeback has to do with ‘not counting households with multiple TV sets.’

    I disagree with most here I think though that these players know what they are doing. I really think they are just naive, and not willingly selling out to China. I think eventually this will start to hit everyone’s pocketbooks (I mean, even without the woke-ism, their main customers, i.e. the American public, don’t have or won’t have the kind of expendable income that they had going in to the pandemic), salaries will stagnate or decline, and these guys will triangulate towards their best interests, which is ultimately to ‘shut up and dribble.’

  6. They are in serious trouble. When seasoned veterans cannot find a job of their salary demands they will break ranks. They have no must see Rookie for 20-21. When the new salary cap is distributed to players for 20-21 they will walk. Thats when the union will destroy its self.

  7. Jack Baer Yahoo Sports

    “The NBA certainly isn’t happy its ratings are down, especially in a series featuring the Lakers, but there are still reasons for optimism for the future of the league, as well as its competitors.”

    So Jack, what are the reasons for optimism?

  8. Very nice update, Mr. Burack: “It will take years to undo an identity that only welcomes those with the same extreme views based on everything but facts. Which, clearly, isn’t that many people.”

    Least watched Finals opener……..ever. Sweet magnolia. NBA, meet the abyss:

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