Bob Costas once said that the NBA’s social justice messaging was alienating its fans, and Bob Costas is a very smart man.
Ratings numbers for the NBA’s Western Conference Finals are coming in and though they’re way up from last year’s pandemic-plagued season, they are way down from 2019.
As Sports Media Watch reports:
Tuesday’s Clippers-Suns NBA Western Conference Finals Game 2 averaged 5.27 million viewers on ESPN, up 66% from last year’s Nuggets-Lakers Game 2 in the “bubble” — which aired opposite Sunday Night Football (3.17M) — but down a third from the comparable Blazers-Warriors Game 2 in 2019 (7.88M). Viewership topped every game of last year’s Lakers-Nuggets series.
A 33% decline from last year’s WCF Game 2, to be exact. The NBA will of course focus on the 66% increase from last year as the main take away. However, it’s not really all that hard to beat a “bubble game” that went head-to-head with Sunday Night Football.
Nor should the league be focusing on that.
Instead, the only objective way to gauge the league’s popularity is to compare the current numbers to the last “normal” year the league had. You know, the year before the NBA surrendered their brand to Black Lives Matter. When you do that, when you make the comparison, you see that the league is down massively from where it was in 2019.
That’s the reality for the NBA, and that’s what has to be keeping a lot of league executives up at night.