How the NBA is getting ready for a big fall in viewership – The New York Times
The NBA is gearing up for its biggest fall in ratings since the start of the lockout, with a new report suggesting that the league’s top teams are struggling to draw viewers.
In its latest survey, which covers all NBA games through Wednesday, the Nielsen Company found that the average number of viewers in a game in the fourth quarter of games played in January and February was down by 12% from the same period last year, when the NBA Finals were played.
The numbers, which also include the top 10 games in the NBA in the past 24 hours, reflect the fact that most of the top teams in the league were playing their first games of the new season on the road, which makes it harder to make up for any drops in TV viewers.
The NBA is not alone in having trouble attracting viewers.
The league’s two other major broadcast networks, ABC and ESPN, also reported that they saw a drop in viewership.ABC said it saw an 8% decline in viewership for the first three months of the season, compared to the same time last year.
ESPN saw a 3% decline, the lowest in its history, as well as an 11% drop for the second quarter of the year, compared with the same quarter last year in the same month.
The decline in ratings is due to the fact the NBA’s broadcast networks are all owned by the league and the majority of the games are played at home, according to a report from ESPN.
That means many of the broadcasts are not being seen by many people who might be watching the games on TV.
While the league is still making the necessary adjustments to keep its games fresh, the decline in the ratings could mean that the NBA might have to rethink its strategy of scheduling games at home for the new league season.
“This is one of the most challenging and frustrating times we’ve ever had in sports, and we don’t want to lose our viewers,” commissioner Adam Silver told reporters on Thursday.
“We’ve got to get to a point where it’s more about what the audience wants, and what we can make it happen, and that means we’re going to have to make adjustments to our scheduling,” Silver said.
“The only thing that is going to help is not putting the games at our home [and] not playing them in the cities that they are played in.”
In the past year, the NBA has added an average of 20% to its home games to accommodate the increased demand for the game, while adding fewer games at their main arenas in the U.S. and Canada.
The ratings decline is one reason the league has been cutting back on home games, including the use of smaller venues.