NBA Game 1 Eastern Conference Ratings Crash, League Numbers Down 45% Since 2012

Getty Images_Kevin C. Cox (9)
Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

The NBA’s ratings continue to plummet as the league moves through its conference finals this year. However, the crash isn’t a new thing. It’s been going on since 2012.

Game 1 of the finals featuring the Heat and Celtics earned only 4 million viewers, down significantly from last year’s Bucks-Raptors game of 5.5 million viewers, Outkick reported.

The ratings crash is even worse going back a few seasons. In 2018, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cavs and Celtics saw 7.2 million viewers, making this year’s 4 million an even worse showing.

“The first round was down an eye-popping 27% year-over-year. In addition, the first round’s 1.94 million average is down 40% from two seasons ago, the last time LeBron James participated in the playoffs,” Outkick noted.

But this ratings crash isn’t exactly new. The NBA has suffered a steady decline in TV ratings for nearly a decade. Since 2012, the league’s TV numbers have fallen a whopping 45 percent.

The playoff games were also in trouble early in September. Even the team that is supposedly the most popular team in the league, the L.A. Lakers, had the worst ratings of the week for its big clincher game, according to Sports Media Watch.

Compared to the playoffs in 2019, the games in the first week of Sept. were down 18 percent in the ratings and 16 percent in viewership.

The monumental collapse may not be too surprising in light of the results of a recent poll that found that a majority of fans said that the NBA has become too political and that they are not watching because of it.

A Harris poll released on Sept. 2 discovered that 39 percent of respondent who identified as sports fans felt that the league was too political. And another 19 percent said that they had soured on pro basketball because of the NBA’s deep links to China.

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