NBA TV Ratings Collapse After Bowing to China

Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey

TV ratings for the National Basketball Association have collapsed this year, a season that kicked off with the league bowing to communist China.

In October, just as the NBA’s 2019 pre-season was kicking off, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted a short message in support of the pro-democracy activists in China-controlled Hong Kong. The league immediately erupted in condemnation for the Rockets boss and bowed to Chinese authorities. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly apologized to China.

League officials were not the only ones in basketball to take a knee before China. Many of the players, including star LeBron James, came to China’s side over the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong to live in a democracy.

Now, two full months after the NBA’s 2019 season launched, TV ratings have crashed over last year’s numbers, according to John Ouand.

On Monday, Ourand tweeted the “NBA’s TV scorecard so far,” and the numbers are not good.

Ourand posted that the NBA’s numbers are a sad story so far this season, with TNT down 23 percent and ESPN off 20 percent over last year. The league is showing “double digit drops nationally.”

TNT down 23%
ESPN down 20%
RSNs down 13%

It is hard to know for sure if the China controversy at the head of the 2019 season is the entire reason for the loss of viewers, but it couldn’t have helped.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.