The NBA Will Go Broke After This


Image credit to Michael Tipton. Image modified from original.

Los Angeles Lakers may have won their 17th NBA title over Miami Heat, but what good would it be if no one watched it?

Lakers defeated Heat in the sixth game in this year’s NBA finals. Yet, Heat’s beating paralleled the show’s staggering loss of viewers as ratings for the finals season were an all-time worst.

Rating for Game 6 has yet to be released, but the fifth game numbers show a mere 5.7 million viewers. That’s peanuts compared to the crowd in the previous year.

Over 18.5 million viewers were recorded in 2019.

A similar scenario was seen with NFL’s primetime games, although some of the matches gained ratings upward. Football and golf continue to gain momentum in its viewership.

Yet, for the basketball league, games have been tanked immensely. Causes couldn’t be attributed to COVID nor streaming since the other sports would’ve been similarly affected.

Some of the sports spectra have touched social justice props as well, but the NBA was the most aggressive in pushing the advocacy led by Lebron James.

The stunning decline in ratings may have butt hurt the management as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said to review the league’s social justice messaging.

“My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor,” Silver said.

“And I understand those people who are saying, ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game,’” the commissioner continued.

However, Silver’s words may not be powerful enough. Unlike in the NFL where the association has a voice but the owners have the last say, the players mostly control the NBA.

Silver has little control over his league.

But, of course, money matters. The league could only hold longer before it gets totally tanked. A 68% drop in viewership wouldn’t sustain revenues.

A cause is a double-edged sword. The NBA needs to figure out which side to save – the ratings [money] or the advocacy. Too bad the viewers only want to watch sports, so the league couldn’t have their cake and eat it too.

Ratings equal Revenue.

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