Whats The Reason Behind A Record Low In NBA TV Ratings?


Superstar NBA PG Stephen Curry missed a majority of the 2019-2020 NBA season and may have attributed to the ratings drop.

Davis Cuffe, Sports Editor

¨People are tired of watching the highly political @NBA. Basketball ratings are WAY down, and they won’t be coming back. I hope football and baseball are watching and learning because the same thing will be happening to them. Stand tall for our Country and our Flag!!¨ A Tweet this summer from our president Donald Trump regarding new changes to the NBA. These changes included allowing players to put a message regarding social justice and race relations on the backs of their jerseys, putting the words ¨Black Lives Matter¨ on all courts and allowing players to kneel for the national anthem. This was deemed by many as ¨too political¨ and has been the blame for the NBA’s ratings decrease. This year´s NBA finals recorded 48% fewer viewers than last year. But what’s the real reason behind this literal all-time low in finals views. 

To put it quite simply, you can’t blame this rating dip on just one or two reasons but a culmination of reasons. To start, the atmosphere around this year’s NBA Finals clearly isn’t the same. This can be blamed on the Disney NBA Bubble, something that resulted in zero NBA player/staff COVID-19 cases and for the NBA season to be able to be playable. While the Bubble has been able to revive the NBA season, it also meant no fans which change the entire environment for the games and took away a lot of the excitement for those at home. 

Another reason for the NBA’s decline in viewership is the number of viewers switching from cable and to streaming services, many of which are illegal. With the NBA having such a young fanbase more and more are ¨cutting the cord¨. Which is something that NBA commissioner Adam Silver commented on in an interview earlier this year with The Daily News: ¨It’s well-known that on one hand we’re celebrated by some because we have such a young fan base, but that young fan base is disconnecting from pay television in record numbers, and by disconnecting, not just simply not subscribing to cable or so-called cutting the cord, they’re not watching traditional paid television the way they used to¨, Silver stated. ¨They’re watching over-the-top streaming services. They’re watching screens, but it’s not essentially paid TV¨. With over 38 million households going cordless, that number is only expected to rise and with it, NBA ratings may only continue to drop. 

Now finally, as alluded earlier by our current president Donald Trump, politics has come into play when looking at the NBA rating dip. It seems for many viewers, the NBA making strides towards equality, is ¨too political¨ for many viewers. Including our president. According to a poll by The Harris Poll, 39% of NBA fans say they’ve been watching fewer games this year due to politics. While putting a few words on a court or on the back of some jerseys doesn’t affect gameplay this seems to have affected most fan’s opinions. The NBA has said that they will be removing ¨Black Lives Matter¨ from all courts and removing slogans from players jerseys which will hopefully cause for a rating rebound. 

While the ratings drop may reduce the NBA´s revenue, it doesn’t affect the gameplay, and with an exciting 2021 NBA season ahead of us there should be must-see TV nightly in the NBA. Be sure not to miss a thing and tune in! Enjoy your basketball Falcons!