In an action-packed night, we saw Jamal Murray save Denver Nuggets from the danger of elimination against the Utah Jazz in Game 5. He became the first player in NBA playoff history to score 40+ points in back-to-back games with zero turnovers. On the other hand, Paul George bounced back after a poor shooting streak in the playoffs. The LA Clippers absolutely dismantled Dallas Mavericks’ defense scoring 150+ points which are unheard of in playoffs
LeBron James is putting up a show each night with record-breaking performances at the age of 35, however, it seems like this is not enough to pull the ratings up. While several reasons can be attributed to this decline in NBA’s TV ratings, the biggest one seems to be players’ political inclinations.
The Atlantic’s Ethan Strauss reported the fall in NBA’s TV ratings to be in double digits. Despite the cancellation of arena games, the ratings have not picked up when compared to 2019 ratings. While ratings have been falling since 2011-12 season, the ongoing black lives matter movement has something to do with the sharp decline this season, especially in the bubble.
“We keep loving this country and this country doesn’t love us back.”
Doc Rivers got emotional while talking about Jacob Blake being shot by police and social injustice. pic.twitter.com/qQI2Ld2DGI
— ESPN (@espn) August 26, 2020
One of the reasons for a boycott could be because of the NBA’s hypocritical stance in issues of social justice. The coaching staff and the players have been vocal about police brutality and systemic racism in the USA. However, they chose to remain silent about Hongkong protests, enjoying the highest international viewership in China. Another reason behind the fall in NBA’s TV ratings, as well as the boycott, could be taking the knee during the national anthem. The NBA has faced severe criticism from fans for its leniency in the matter.
And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This shit is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE https://t.co/cJxOj1EZ3H
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 24, 2020
Is BLM the only reason behind the slump in NBA TV ratings?
In addition to the implications of the Black Lives Matter movement and silence over Hong Kong protests, there are several other reasons behind the free fall in NBA’s TV ratings since 2011. Factors like cord-cutting, illegal streams, the rise of Netflix and other sources of entertainment have had a major impact on the ratings as well. Fans preferring illegal streaming over NBA league pass is something that the NBA didn’t have to deal with in the 90s.
Another unprecedented issue that the NBA is facing in the Orlando bubble is the limited availability of arenas. Due to this, the league is forced to schedule afternoon games that clash with office and school timings. While this problem can be countered once arenas and regular courtside games are given clearance, NBA’s political inclination and alternate/illegal viewing platforms will continue to haunt NBA’s TV ratings in the future.
NBA broadcasts have declined by 45 percent since 2011–12, with games on TNT down about 40 percent and games on ESPN down about 20 percent. While there were some expectations that the ratings would increase for NBA’s bubble games with sports fans starved for content, that apparently has not been the case.