NBA Playoff Viewership Crashes 17% from 2018, Ratings Flat from 2019

LeBron James
Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey

The National Basketball Association is still struggling to regain its fans and, while ratings were flat over 2019 for the start of the 2021 playoffs, viewership crashed another 17 percent since 2018.

Sports Business Journal writer John Ourand noted the unsatisfactory numbers in a tweet on Wednesday:

According to Ourand, the ratings for the opening games of the 2021 NBA playoffs were pretty much the same as the 2019 season. However, viewership was down 17 percent from the 2018 season.

The best showing seems to have been the first-round games broadcast on ABC. The network averaged 4.17 million viewers over those six games, Ourand reported. Though, that was still down four percent from 2019 and a whopping 21 percent over the numbers earned in 2018.

TNT also had its ups and downs. With an average of 2.97 million viewers, that is up a scant 4 percent over 2019, yet still down 18 percent compared to 2018.

However, TNT has basketball to thank for helping it earn the most cable viewers nine times during the NBA’s first-round games this year. Sadly, Ourand goes on to add that this performance is “virtually flat from ‘19 and down 24% from ‘18.”

On the other hand, ratings and viewership are up double digits, so far, compared to the coronavirus “bubble” year of 2020. But being up over 2020 is no achievement when compared to the numbers from 2019 and 2018.

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