OT: NBA TV Ratings Way Down, Some Blaming Lebron to LA

Submitted by uofmfan_13 on January 17th, 2019 at 7:23 PM

NBA ratings way down on Turner (22%) and down 5% on ESPN to date.  Lebron to LA is hurting them in primetime in East, Central time zones.  


The NBA needs to take a page out of NCAA and pro football's play-book... scale back the season to 40 some games, make the match-ups dominated around weekends (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night games only) and holidays, get rid of All-Star game break until after postseason, bring back one-and-done in first round of playoffs, make playoff seeding regardless of conference, and overall increase the drama and rivalries to increase the viewership. 

They won't though.  And when Lebron leaves... buh-bye big money contracts to guys riding the bench for 38 minutes a night. 



January 18th, 2019 at 10:38 AM ^

People are Wrong on the Internet in this thread, and I should step away, but I'm foolishly going to step in.

"Like it or not, people like rivalries where each team hate each other"

"Leagues are pricing the average joe fan out of the arenas / stadiums"

NBA popularity is on the rise.  The NBA has set attendance records in four straight years.  http://www.nba.com/article/2018/04/12/nba-breaks-attendance-record-fourth-straight-year

The players are so highly skilled that the NBA has a much different feel / style than college or high school basketball.  Plays that are good plays for NBA players to make would be horrible plays for a typical high school or college player to make. 

NBA players are so good that they often make incredibly difficult shots over very tall, athletic defenders.  Kyrie Irving comes to mind - a small guy knifing into the lane, finishing full speed tear drops over 7'+ tall defenders.  Steph Curry with 30-foot pull ups over a guy in his grill. 

Don't confuse high scores with lack of defense - the pace is much quicker than it used to be, and players are more skilled than they used to be.

Having said all that, the NBA style isn't for everyone.  If you don't like it, more power to you.  I am not trying to convince anyone who doesn't like it, to start liking it.  That would be stupid - to each their own.

What I am trying to do is point out the ignorance in this thread.  To pretend the product is crap, or that the players don't play defense, or that people don't like it anymore - all of that is patently false.  



January 17th, 2019 at 7:48 PM ^

"I haven't watched basketball since Bill Laimbeer was able to knee guys in the nuts, not this sissy version of basketball where guys actually have to have skill"



Am I doing it right?


January 17th, 2019 at 7:58 PM ^

Yes being able to shoot at a 40% clip from 24 feet is indeed a skill. Here are the ppg averages over the last 50 years


1960-1969: 115 points per game

1970-1989: 109 ppg

1990-1993: 106 ppg

1994-1996: 101 ppg

1997-2003: 95 ppg

2004: 93 ppg

2005-2015: 99 ppg

2016: 103 ppg

2017-2018: 106 ppg



They must not have played defense in the 80's either


January 17th, 2019 at 8:47 PM ^

The NBA playoffs are very effective at resolving who the best teams are. As a result, there are vanishingly few genuine upsets. Low seeds have basically no chance. 

It means that the champion really is the best team, it's not a fluke. Flukes happen in college basketball, and they happen in baseball, and they happen to some extent in the NHL; even in the NFL, where there's an article on the Ringer right now about how unflukey it is, you get champions like the Ravens a few years ago. But even the most surprising NBA champion of my lifetime, the 2004 Detroit Pistons, were clearly the best team in the conference and went back to the Finals (to game 7!) the next season. 

It is what it is. Seven game series in basketball have such a massive sample size of "tests" that the best team will generally win. The downside is that we all know that the Warriors will be in the conference finals and that the Western champion will probably win again.


January 17th, 2019 at 10:08 PM ^

I agree. Much lower-scoring games and outsize impact of a hot goaltender make hockey more of a crapshoot.

That said, a truly dominant team like the Gretzky Oilers can still be almost certain to win.

In the NBA, superstars have a huge impact. It's been almost impossible to beat Jordan/Pippen, Kobe/Shaq and the current Warriors at their peak. You might get them once or twice, but 4 times in 7 is a tall order.


January 17th, 2019 at 8:00 PM ^

The scheduling is stupid. Eastern Conference teams only plays 2 games against the Western Conference teams. Hell, American League teams play National League teams more in baseball. 

G. Gulo of the Dale

January 17th, 2019 at 9:24 PM ^

Is this some extremely veiled form of sarcasm?

Every NBA team plays each cross-conference team twice (home and away) for a total of 30 games.

Thus, 30/82 (36.5%) of NBA games are "inter-conference." 

An MLB team will only play about 1/3 of the teams in the other league in any given season to the tune of 20 total interleague games.

Thus, 20/162 (12.3%) of MLB games are interleague. 

Clearly, there are fewer interleague games in baseball, both by percentage and total quantity.  


January 17th, 2019 at 8:02 PM ^

I feel like the NBA does need to scale back about 20 games.  The regular season games I watched last year just seemed like bad All Star games with guys jacking up shots, nobody boxing out and fighting for boards. Small sample size though. I haven't watched a game this year, but I've watched a few games from the 80's on YouTube in the last month or two which were pretty cool to look back on.  It seemed like most centers back in the day had their own unique style of shot that they developed over time to get their shot off, lots of great fadeaways. You don't see that as much now because the floor is much more open.


January 17th, 2019 at 8:06 PM ^

Shit is real. The lack of marketable east coast teams more generally is the problem. Only purists like the Bucks. The Celtics are actually even better but more of an ensemble. 

Beyond 'Bron there is not the Magic-Larry-MJ-Kobe type persona. Antetokounmpo has the skills but not the personality, and the same is true with Harden. We love Steph Curry on the west coast but he is too low key/aloof  to be the face of the NBA. 


January 17th, 2019 at 11:01 PM ^

I don't agree about Steph. He's SUPER popular among kids, and he's transformed the game with his shooting. He's a mega-star internationally, too. Top selling jersey in NBA.

Kids relate to him because he looks so small and frail, and has perfected a skill that any kid can see him/herself doing.

Giannis has the misfortune of an unpronounceable name, KD has become a villian, and Harden and Westbrook aren't very likable characters. Anthony Davis plays on a mediocre small-market team. 

It's really all about Steph and LeBron right now.


January 18th, 2019 at 11:15 AM ^

True, and arguably the 3'rd or 4th best player in the NBA, Leonard is not someone you can really market.  It still comes back to really bad teams because of the super teams being formed, making most of the nba unwatchable on any given night.  For instance, there's only one game tonight that has both teams above .500 (Warriors-Clippers) and tbh, the Clippers are above .500 because they've played Phoenix, Sacramento a bunch of times.   


January 18th, 2019 at 1:44 PM ^

To me it's the "Grandma test" - would my grandma have heard of the player? LeBron, Steph - yep.

That's about it. Over the years, I'd include only Wilt, Bird, Magic, Jordan, LeBron, Steph, maybe Rodman or Shaq. That's it.

In terms of current top players, should have mentioned Leonard, but the fact I forgot about him kind of proves the point - he's just not a "star", despite the fact he's an amazing player - he's the moody/weird Mike Trout of basketball.

He's also been stuck in San Antonio and Toronto, and sat out a season for a mysterious "injury" - probably being butt-hurt.

Could also have mentioned Embiid or Simmons or Klay or Kyrie or a few others, but they're not nearly as famous as LeBron or Steph. KD is the only guy who approaches them, and he's not on their fame level IMO. 

I'm not sure about the "Super Team" angle; personally, I'd prefer a more balanced league, but I'm not sure the league does. Those Bird/Magic super teams dominated the league, as did the Jordan/Pippen Bulls and Kobe/Shaq Lakers. Seemed to help league popularity.

UofM Die Hard …

January 18th, 2019 at 2:50 PM ^

I dont necessarily hate on the NBA, but I dont watch it. I agree that the talent is just insane and unworldly, but that doesnt mean its fun to watch.  They make everything, they are ridiculous athletes, so on and so on....and that can get boring to a lot of people.  (im from Seattle and hate the NBA for other obvious reasons) Not saying that sentiment is right or wrong but its the reality for a large portion of sports fans. 

NBA protects their stars way too much these days....I know its hard to compare eras but can you imagine Steph taking shots like IT did, MJ, Larry..etc  They were the stars but opponents would beat them up and make them earn every point. Then their teammates would defend their stars...and it made for great great games and drama.   That is gone IMO...watching 120+ point games consistently if fun and all, but I grew up only seeing that in all star games and thats what made those games so fun to tune into....all star game now is just another NBA game that everyone sees everyday. 

NHL is the best to me, they have stars everywhere but you bet your ass they are earning everything....they get targeted by the gooners to slow down their game, then their teammates put up that middle finger and say back the fuck off our guy.... too much great shit right there. 


January 17th, 2019 at 8:23 PM ^

So, the decline in TV ratings is simply due to one player going to the West Coast  . . . and therefore the league should blow everything up? 

I feel like there's a bit of a flaw in this reasoning.

Perkis-Size Me

January 17th, 2019 at 8:28 PM ^

Couldn’t care less about the NBA. Defense is becoming even more and more optional, and in this age of superteams, you don’t even have to have a regular season anymore to know who’s going to be playing for it all, and almost certainly winning it all.

Bank on Golden State for the fourth time in five years. They’ll run Toronto, Boston or Milwaukee right off the floor.

It’s no fun to watch without any kind of drama or uncertainty. 

Perkis-Size Me

January 17th, 2019 at 10:22 PM ^

If all you care about is scoring and offensive fireworks, then sure. But for as many things that are wrong with the NFL as there are, parity and competitiveness are not one of them. Teams can go from worst to first in any given year, and while you do have one consistently great teamin the Pats, anyone can rise up to beat them in any given year. 

You know the Warriors are going to win the NBA title before the regular season even starts. It’s like the Directors Cup with Stanford. Just hand them the damn trophy and let everyone else fight over second place.


January 17th, 2019 at 11:21 PM ^

I agree about competitiveness; the NFL has perfected parity (makes it even more amazing that NE keeps winning - and Lions keep losing).

OTOH, the NBA features an insane level of athletic skill. I enjoy the NBA for two things; living in SF it's fun to watch the Warriors, and I'm in awe of the skill and athleticism of NBA players. Those guys are just unbelievable athletes.

Comparing athletes in different sports is an unwinnable argument, but sometimes I imagine how great Iverson might have been if he spent his life playing soccer, or Kobe tennis, or LeBron football. Conversely, I can't imagine too many athletes in other sports being able to compete in the NBA (I know, I know, Jordan couldn't hit a curveball).

When I was at Michigan I played hoops with/against a bunch of football players, and while they were really good and crazy athletic for their size, they weren't close to B1G level hoopsters. Many of them said if they had their 'druthers they would have played hoops.


January 17th, 2019 at 8:32 PM ^

I’d love to see a more thoughtful analysis on sports enthusiasm over time by sport and level. Media viewing habits change, preferences change, affordability changes, other factors change over time. I’d really love to see a statistical analysis in these things over time. I suspect a lot of the changes will be more systemic vs idiosyncratic with the occasional idiosyncratic outlier causing a blip here and there. 

Nate the Newt

January 17th, 2019 at 8:35 PM ^

NBA threads on MGOBLOG might be worse than gravy threads.  The takes here are so bad.  "I haven't watched the NBA in 15 years, it sucks".  Um, how would you even know it sucks?   

Skill level and defensive effort have never been higher - guys are guarding so much more space with the 3 ball era and it's a much more complicated defensive scheme.  Watch some actual 80s or 90s footage - it's embarrasing what kind of defense was played.  It was more physical but only in a caveman type of way. 

Talent level is currently on par with Bird/Magic/MJ era or Shaq/Kobe/Iverson era.  There is phenomenal basketball being played every night and there is also some good drama - KD as villain with Warriors, Butler craziness, will Bron succeed in L.A., etc.  

I love watching college basketball too but you're not watching the same class of athletes and you're not watching the same game for the same reasons if you like college but not the NBA.  


January 17th, 2019 at 9:28 PM ^

The problem for some, myself included, is the difference in talent in NBA really changes the game in comparison to college or even the NBA of 90s/00s. It's a bit like how men's tennis is so insanely power oriented these days, and some would say to the detriment of the game.

Also the bitching is out of control in the NBA. 


January 17th, 2019 at 8:38 PM ^

The youth love the NBA. It’s style is very appealing to young kids and the AAU circuit. Which in turn, leaves us coaches having to unteach bad habits and teach fundamentals at the high school level.


January 17th, 2019 at 10:21 PM ^

I honestly think that the bad habits are far more due to playing more games at a younger age than their love for the NBA. They’re playing more games and practices, which gives their bad habits - which almost every young player has - more time to set in. There’s only so much quality coaching to go around so more exposure to mediocre or ineffective coaching hurts their development long term. But the kids that have good youth coaching are going to have the better habits and the more games helps them a ton. 


January 17th, 2019 at 10:24 PM ^

Just tell them to watch the Warriors. They play a fantastic, unselfish style with brilliant spacing and a mix of superstars and effective role players.

Golden State plays a similar style to JB's Michigan, except they play much faster and have 3 of the greatest shooters to ever play the game. Spacing, angles, positionless players, unselfish passing and lots of 3's.

I agree there was a time when most of the best NBA guys just wanted to attack the rim. Spacing the floor and outside shooting were de-emphasized, and the style was more like streetball. That's totally changed. 

If you want to teach great fundamentals, just show tape of Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodola, on both ends of the floor. Draymond Green is one of those guys you hate unless he's on your team.

Steph and Durant play fundamentally sound basketball considering their otherworldly skill, but it's probably not great to teach kids to hoist 35 footers or have your 7 footer handling the ball. 

I understand lots of people are sick of the W's, but they do play beautiful basketball.