Despite the high quality of basketball we have seen at this year’s NBA bubble, it has not led to more people being drawn to it. The Finals are seeing an all-time low in TV viewers.
There are many factors at play here. First of all, many NBA fans today are streaming the game rather than watching it on the telly.
Secondly, the lack of fans in the arena has made for an inferior viewing experience overall. Thirdly, the Miami Heat are the most ‘unfancied’ team to make it to this stage in well over a decade.
Why have TV ratings seen such a dramatic decline?
Game 1 of the NBA Finals saw only 7.1 million viewers, which is the lowest figure for any Finals Game 1 this century. Games 2 & 3, which came on traditionally bad days for ratings, saw an abyssal fall in ratings as well.
Only 6.4 million and 5.9 million viewers respectively tuned into these games.
TV ratings for the NBA Finals ratings are down 55%. Similarly, daily comment activity during the Finals on r/nba, the internets biggest NBA message board, is down ~45% relative to last year pic.twitter.com/tAO5LcUqCb
— llewellyn jean (@owenlhjphillips) October 7, 2020
It’s not just the NBA which has seen a decline in viewership either.
NBA Finals ratings are down 55%. Stanley Cup Finals ratings were down 61%. US Open ratings were down 45%.
I wonder if there are common causes at work, or if we should treat one of these sports as different than the others.
— Kevin Draper (@kevinmdraper) October 6, 2020
While the NBA’s social justice stance, and its promotion of BLM may have had some effect, there are clear signs that people are just disinterested in sports these days.
It is something to be concerned about for the league, but one can expect that this is a temporary change of status.