The NBA’s TV ratings are down considerably this season. It’s not hard to see why as LeBron James took his talents from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.
According to Sports Media Watch, regular season games across ESPN and ABC averaged about the same as last year, but TNT averages were down 12% from last season.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked about the ratings and he agreed that LeBron leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers was the reason, and because of that, he’s willing to do something drastic that would screw over an entire coast.
Face it, LeBron is one of the biggest stars in the world, and he also played in the East.
And so, the reason I look a little bit tired is a lot of our games are in the West, and it’s late at night. And I recognize most people choose to go to sleep at a reasonable time. And so, from a rating standpoint, not having LeBron in the playoffs, not having him in the East, has clearly impacted ratings.
Fifty percent of television households in this country are in the Eastern time zone. And so if your West Coast games start at 10:30 at night in the East, you’re invariably going to lose a lot of viewers around 11, 11:30. I mean, you can just chart it. You see how many television households turn off around 11:15, 11:30 at night, just because people have to get up for work in the morning.
I mean, it is something we can address. We’re talking about it. I mean, it would obviously be less convenient to those fans on the West Coast if we played even earlier. I mean, just think about people getting to those arenas after work if you start a game at 6 p.m. local time in the West. It’s not the most convenient thing. It’s not as convenient for a television watcher on the West coast, either. But when you look at the league from a national standpoint, it may make sense to play a little bit earlier in the West. And that’s something we’re going to talk to our teams about this summer.
Now, LeBron is not the sole reason as Silver pointed out that people, especially young people are watching less television through conventional methods.
Determining start times will always be a tall task to appease home fans, road fans and a national audience in any sport.
It should be noted that 13 of the 30 NBA teams are located in the Eastern time zone, and that includes the NBA office.