As I have written for the last few weeks NBA viewership is in a freefall. Even with the biggest star and franchise in the NBA finals, fans didn’t tune in. Game 5 had the highest ratings of the series and had nearly 9 million viewers. Last year with no LJ, Lakers and a Canadian team playing the lowest viewership was just less than 13 million viewers. The final two games were more than 18 million viewers. What happened. The NBA had cemented itself as a strong #2 behind the NFL and it lost half of its viewers this season.
More fans tuned in to college football Georgia vs Alabama with between 9.5-12 million viewers but it gets worse for the NBA. Baseball, the kicking boy of national sports ratings, beat the NBA with game 7 of the NLCS starring the Atlanta Braves and L.A. Dodgers averaged 9.662 million viewers on a Fox/FS1 simulcast
Both MLB and College football beat every single NBA Championship game. That’s right a semifinal baseball game (that shared the night with the NFL) and an early-season college football beat viewership in every game in the NBA’s championship series.
The NBA commissioner knows that this is a monetary problem and “social justice” messaging will not be as prominent next season. American sports fans are slow to forget. It took years for baseball to recover from its early 1990’s strike. It was the “roid” homerun race that brought people back. Will LeBron James change his messaging between now and next season? He was the face of basketball’s biggest game and he could not draw the numbers. Is the NBA that out of step with the average basketball fan? Opinion politics, a cozy relationship with the oppressive Chinese government and non-stop politicization of the game aren’t the things that average America wants in their life. Will college athletes be next to follow this receipt for disaster?