NBA Conference Finals Game 1 Ratings Plummet

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Channel-turning viewers handed the NBA another L on Tuesday.

Game 1 of Heat-Celtics drew only 4 million viewers. The average is down significantly from last season’s Bucks-Raptors’ 5.5 million.

Number-to-number, that’s ugly. Factor in last night featured one of the NBA’s premier franchises, the Celtics, and last year a team from Canada, it is officially a tank-job.

Two years ago, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cavs and Celtics drew 7.2 million viewers, per SportsMediaWatch. That doesn’t make this look better.

The NBA is in trouble. Its viewers have turned away. The first round was down an eye-popping 27% year-over-year. In addition, the first round’s 1.94 million average is down 40% from two seasons ago, the last time LeBron James participated in the playoffs.

Since 2012, NBA viewership on broadcast TV is down, a make you blink, 45%.

This is not a COVID problem; like the NFL, the NBA went political. Except the NFL went semi-political, which was enough to turn its Week 1 ratings into a disaster. Professional basketball went all-in. Some would say re-defined the word “woke.” NBA players aren’t merely making statements, these guys are telling you how to vote, think, and if you are a racist.

Forget an escape, the NBA is a lesson. A lesson catered to social justice warriors and hosts on ESPN. In other words, not many Americans.

Worst of all, LeBron James is the biggest hypocrite in America. LeBron has yet to break his silence on Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s challenge to match reward money for the horrific police shooting in LA.

As for spin-master Mark Cuban, he has yet to tweet about this result. If he does, and he probably won’t, expect a well thought out disingenuous spinning with blocked comments.

*Follow Bobby Burack on Twitter @burackbobby_, and on Parler @bobbyburack.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

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


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  1. Hey it’s what the queen wanted he said don’t watch and this is the face of the NBA good luck with that I’m not watching and don’t plan on watching. And by the way has this hypocrite POS answered the challenge the Sheriff put out there for those two brave deputies who were almost assassinated.

    • Why didn’t he throw some couch cushion change towards the Sheriff? Easy to do. No skin (racist) off his back and may show he really cares about all of us.
      He wasn’t aware – BS.
      He’s in the middle of a title chase – yeah no time to make any statements right now.
      He doesn’t want to take sides – did that a while back.
      Should have jumped on the request like a grenade. This soldier is toiling day and night in the battle for sainthood for criminals of every (sorry one color).
      Too late A hole.

  2. Bobby, very well written! And I would say that the NBA redefined the word woke! I don’t know if I’ll ever watch them again, at least not until after Lebron retires. I refuse to support any entity which is trying to tear down our country!

  3. The NBA apocalypse would be Denver against Miami. But, I don’t think LeBron and AD will lose. If it is Lakers vs. Celtics, I think the ratings will be okay because they are both massive basketball markets and there is their shared history. Just to be clear, I am rooting for Denver /Miami.

  4. I wonder what will happen to their attendance figures when people are allowed to go to games again? Between people being turned off to the in game political statements and not wanting to go into some of these radicalized cities at night, I’m guessing that will be a disaster for the league too.

  5. Basketball was always my favorite sport and the one I played growing up. I will still watch college or high school hoops or even overseas ball if it is on TV. But the NBA? I have followed the Rockets for over 40 years, but if the entire league were to stick with being a propaganda arm for the Democrat/Marxist left I honestly hope it goes under. I believe there is a demand for pro basketball that sticks to playing ball so someone else would step up and fill the void eventually. But this NBA? I hope this NBA dies a slow, painful death. Defund the NBA

  6. Great column Bobby. I echo the comments above. I haven’t watched a minute of any bubble game and haven’t purchased a Nike product since they ran the infamous Kap commercial back in 2018. Anyone informed is well aware that Nike and the NBA are in bed with China’s communist dictatorship. Add “woke on steroids” and you you have a recipe for a ratings disaster. As Clay says…”Go woke and go broke”.

  7. Its just depressing to see a pastime ruined like this. I was so all-in on the NBA my entire life. Lifer Jazz fan here, had to move to Oregon in high school, and man those Malone/Stockton – Duckworth/Drexler battle years were awesome! I wore my Jazz fanship proudly in the teeth of Trailblazer country! Just all in, all the time. Stoked for what the Gobert/Mitchell era can produce. But the NBA took that escape from me–its just eye-rolling tiresome now to have to wade thru the political bullshit. And I can’t just ignore it because its so blatantly BS to boot when these guys spout such ridiculous crap not grounded in the actual reality of the situation. Then it makes me realize the hypocrisy of that, couple against the meek rollover stance they have on REAL abuses in China, and I get angry at at all. And come back to WHY THE HELL CAN’T I JUST ENJOY MY BASKETBALL?? I watched my Jazz games, not a single tune in to anything since. Nor a desire to. Which sucks. Ah well.

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