NBA television ratings have been in the dumps since before the days of COVID-19, bottoming out when it set an all-time low for the Finals in 2020.
Well, things don’t appear to be any better these days, as relayed by Jon Lewis of SportsMedia Watch.
For starters, a game between the Lakers and Pelicans on TNT last week averaged a measly 920,000 viewers, down a whopping 35% from a Rockets-Bucks matchup on a comparable night in 2019. That Lakers-Pelicans game was also the least-watched Lakers game on ABC, ESPN or TNT since LeBron James signed on in 2018.
Granted, both James and star forward Anthony Davis were out with injuries, but these are still the Lakers, and those ratings are still better suited for Major League Soccer or even college lacrosse.
Plus, James and Davis played in the Finals last season, and ratings for the Finals were downright atrocious. And things have been equally as bad around the rest of the league.
“In other recent NBA action, ESPN drew a 0.7 rating (-26%) and 1.15 million viewers (-17%) for Clippers-Mavericks and a 0.6 (-41%) and 931,000 (-37%) for Bucks-Sixers last Wednesday,” Lewis wrote. “TNT the previous night had a 0.6 and 1.03 million for Jazz-Celtics and a 0.6 and 983,000 for Pelicans-Blazers. Preceding the aforementioned Lakers-Warriors game on March 15, ESPN drew a 0.7 (-35%) and 1.13 million (-36%) for Knicks-Nets. Finally, Clippers-Pelicans had a 0.6 (-34%) and 1.01 million (-24%) on ESPN March 14. All comparisons are to 2019.”
Overall, NBA playoff ratings were down 27% last season when compared to 2019, and down 40% compared to the year before that, as OutKick’s Bobby Burack wrote.
The first round of the playoffs were an extension of the declining ratings prior to the NBA hiatus in March.
According to a report from Sports Business Daily in February, national television viewership for regular season games fell 12 percent compared to 2018-19. Again, those were the league’s pre-hiatus numbers.
“The NBA has growing concern. This goes beyond TV ratings,” an industry insider told SI.com last year. “The league does remain a popular brand overseas. But it has hit hard times among sports fans here (in the United States).”