NBA Ratings being down in 2020 was a HUGE talking point, mostly by conservative hosts, as they tried to make the case of protests diminishing interest in the NBA product. In reality, it was most likely because of a different schedule that people weren't used to, national stress levels, and going head to head with NFL/CFB.
Ratings actually haven't been as bad this year as we would think. But things are about to change.
I think the NBA is in real ratings trouble. Giannis, potentially out. Kawhi might not come back. Maybe you get the healthy teams and the finals are a matchup of Suns/Hawks. Which would be awesome for us…just not for them.
And again, what’s interesting is that the ratings actually haven’t been all that bad…
This from SportsMediaWatch.com
Neither the ratings disaster of the “bubble” nor a return to normal, a pair of unexpected, non-traditional NBA conference finals continues to put up respectable numbers.
Monday’s Clippers-Suns NBA Western Conference Finals Game 5 averaged 5.74 million viewers on ESPN, up 20% from last year’s clinching Nuggets-Lakers Game 5 in the “bubble” on TNT, which aired on a college football Saturday (4.79M), and the most-watched game of the conference finals thus far.
For the postseason, the Clippers’ win ranks third behind a pair of semifinal Game 7s (Bucks-Nets: 6.91M; Hawks-Sixers: 6.16M) and ahead Warriors-Lakers in the Play-in Tournament (5.62M).
Game 5 ranks as the most-watched NBA telecast on ESPN since the clinching Warriors-Blazers Game 4 in the 2019 Western Conference Finals (7.79M), and the network’s top game that did not include the Warriors or LeBron James since a Thunder-Clippers second round game in 2014 (6.40M).
All-in-all it looks like this year’s playoffs are up from 2020…way up. And down from 2019…which would be expected. But I think they are going to look @ this year and throw up in their mouth by the time we get to the finals. Basically- if you think about it. Everyone who is watching basketball right now, that’s your group you’re taking with you to the finals. You’re not getting a new wave of viewers because Devin Booker is guarding Bogdan Bogdonovic.
It won't fit the narrative of "ratings are down due to protests" so you won't see many stories about it, but this is likely the reality as the league suffers in big moments without its biggest stars.