Something is wrong with the NBA. After years after increasing viewership, the league is suffering significant drops across the board.
In a report by John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, every major network (and regional sports networks) has seen a pretty sizable decline in the audience through the first month of the season.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) December 3, 2019
TNT’s coverage is down 23 percent, ESPN has dropped by 20 percent, and regional networks have seen a 13 percent drop. While there’s still time for things to even out, the numbers are not a good sign and suggest that something is holding fans back from watching the game — but what?
Could it be the NBA’s new three-point play-style? With 40% of attempts coming from 24 feet out or greater, watching a game often includes a stretch of seeing teams chuck up bad shots from beyond the arc.
Could it be the current schedule of televised games? This season, networks like ESPN and TNT have featured teams like the Pelicans and Warriors, despite them being among the worst in the NBA.
Of course, there’s also load management, the imbalance of quality between the East and West coast, and the absence of superteams.
Honestly, the NBA’s decline could be a culmination of all of these things. Pick your poison.
But perhaps the most interesting matter is what the league is going to do about it. Adam Silver has already proposed a number of big changes to the format and structure of the NBA, including a mid-season tournament and re-vamped playoff seeding.
Only time will tell if those actions will help fix the NBA’s biggest problems.