PGA Championship Crushes NBA Playoffs Ratings

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:

  1. Lakers-Suns: 4.4 million viewers
  2. Celtics-Nets: 3.8 million
  3. Hawks-Knicks: 3 million
  4. Grizzlies-Jazz: 2.7 million
  5. 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.

Written by Bobby Burack

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


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  1. Someone needs to share this with Gary. In his story about Cock Rivers it was stated “Doc Rivers is probably well aware the ratings for the playoffs are recovering”. Their top game is 2 million+ behind the PGA? If that’s recovering then it looks like bad news for the NBA.

  2. Post this on a lot of these articles, but worth repeating: I used to be THE biggest NBA fan. Watched, purchased, consumed all of it. I have not watched one second of a game the last 2 seasons. The idiots on Twitter, etc who say things like “they won’t miss you” (despite not actually spending any real time/money on the NBA) obviously do not understand business. I am PRECISELY the customer the NBA – or any business – cannot afford to alienate and lose. Their bottom lines are beginning to reflect that reality, and internally they are petrified. Hence the push to suck up to China.

    • Well said “Common Sense.” I was always more a fan of college hoops, but I certainly kept up with the NBA scores and standings during the season and watched many playoff games over the years, especially when the Warriors were a juggernaut. The past two seasons I have completely turned off the NBA and don’t miss it.

    • My interest in the NBA had been waning to begin with before this all. I kept track of what was going on to a degree via ESPN’s app but didn’t watch games. When they went full woke they lost me forever…and I’m a lifelong Lakers fan.

    • They still have Nike and the ghetto kids still wear their shoes. The biggest fans are the Chinese from what I’ve read anyway. Maybe they should move to China where the players would experience the racism they imagine exists in this country. All Chinese aren’t BB fans.

  3. I was a little pissed off when listening to Colin Cowherd’s show in passing the other day because of a mention of NBA playoff ratings. His female sidekick, whoever it is now, mocked the people who boycotted the NBA over their wokeness, claiming they had come back for the Lakers vs Warriors game, given the ratings. My first thought was, “They may have been up but how much lower were the ratings than they were a few years back?” I assume they are quite a bit lower than they historically were. I’m a lifelong Lakers fan and didn’t care that they won the title last year and didn’t watch a minute of the woke bubble games.

    • Sup Fresno, Visalia guy here. Spot on with everything you said. I actually quit being a lifelong Lakers fan when Lebitch joined them. Never was a fan of him and that was before he opened his mouth his woke BS. The sad fact is, they don’t even rely on the ratings numbers here anymore, it’s all about China for them, just like with Hollywood. Look how quickly a supposed tough guy like John Cena grabbed his ankles for them over something he said, which was true anyways(Taiwan being its own country).

  4. The issue with NBA is not just the social warrior justice mentality. It’s the generational loss of talent and the lack of work ethic & dedication throughout the entire regular season. NFL and college football games matter – the NBA simply does not.

  5. MB Howell is absolutely right. It is not just the social justice nonsense that has caused people to walk away from the NBA. I would hardly call this temporary uptick in ratings evidence that the people who are boycotting the NBA have returned to the fold. Cowherd’s obnoxious sidekick, Joy Taylor, has always been an NBA apologist.

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