While LA Lakers inch closer to winning the 2020 NBA Championship in unprecedented times, NBA Finals TV ratings are hitting all-time lows. Ranging from political inclinations of the NBA community to advanced technology, several factors have led to a drastic decline in viewership.
Game 3 of the LA Lakers vs Miami Heat saw the sharpest fall in the NBA Finals TV ratings in recent years, making it the least viewed game in Finals history. The first three games of the Finals amassed a total of 19.4 million views whereas, the 1998 NBA Finals Game 6 between Chicago bulls and Utah Jazz alone recorded 35.9 million viewers.
Although viewership revived to a certain extent in Game 4, overall NBA Finals TV ratings remain all-time low since the tip-off on September 30th. And to add to the prevailing situation, the absence of a courtside audience due to COVID-19 has harmed the ratings as well.
Several fans and President Donald Trump himself blamed players’ political inclinations as the reason behind the fall in NBA’s TV ratings. NBA Players are not a fan of President Donald Trump and feelings are mutual. In 2018 Stephen Curry and Golden State Warriors refused to go to the white house after the championship. This unravelled series of tweets from Donald Trump over the years, criticising NBA’s political stand.
However, Political inclinations have little to do with the fall in NBA Finals TV ratings. NFL, Sunday Night Football, Illegal streaming, chord cutting and one-sided series are to blame for it.
Illegal streaming is the biggest reason behind fall in NBA Finals TV Ratings
Technology has advanced since the 90s enabling pirate viewers to attend games without a league pass subscription or ABC subscription. In addition, chord cutting, discord/Reddit streaming has enabled illegal mass viewership bringing down the TV Ratings considerably.
NBA enjoyed large international viewership internationally via the league pass, however, recent tensions between China and the US as well as Houston Rockets executive’s comments about the Hongkong protests have declined international viewership. China has banned all Houston Rockets games which led to illegal streaming of the banned games.
On top of that, resumption of NFL has divided the fanbase due to clash in the timings, and afternoon games. Game 3 occurred on NFL Sunday. The “Sunday Night Football” game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers drew viewers away from the Finals. Consequently, it recorded the lowest TV ratings in NBA Finals history.
NBA Finals ratings being at an all-time low is due to the fact that an NBA Finals game without a crowd is not a great product. Combine that with increased chord cutting and even more options. The NBA’s position on politics and race has very little to do with it.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 5, 2020
There’s little to nothing NBA can do to revive the viewership at this point without an on-court audience. In addition, the fixed outcome of heavily favored LA Lakers over injured Miami Heat is not helping the situation either.