Sports talk will tell you that, come NBA playoff time, nothing else matters. Cancel your plans, finish your TV series, it’s NBA time. But is anyone listening? Does it matter?
Despite all the hype for the NBA playoffs one year after the bubble, stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, James Harden, and Joel Embiid took an L this weekend to the PGA Championship. A bad one.
As first noted by Sports Business Journal, the final round of the PGA Championship drew 6.6 million viewers, up from 5.2 million in 2020 and 5.0 million in 2019.
The highly-promoted NBA playoffs didn’t sniff that number:
- Lakers-Suns: 4.4 million viewers
- Celtics-Nets: 3.8 million
- Hawks-Knicks: 3 million
- Grizzlies-Jazz: 2.7 million
- Wizards-Sixers: 1.9 million
Phil Mickelson isn’t making many promos and graphics on First Take, but perhaps he should.
The most telling number comes at the top, the Lakers-Suns Game 1 battle. The NBA smartly placed the most talked-about matchup, with the biggest stars, at the 3:30 ET Sunday ABC, the NBA’s most-viewed time slot. For the NBA, that’s its NFL Sunday afternoon window. Despite that, it drew a not-much-to-see 4.4 million.
The truth is, the NBA is just not as popular as we’ve been led to believe. It’s the primary sport on ESPN/ABC. It’s the most frequently talked about sport on social media. Its players’ views align with those with the loudest voices in our country. Combine all that, and you have a product promoted well beyond its interest level.
That’s the story.