With LeBron James moving to the West Coast, NBA ratings took a hit this season for the first time in a long time.
Regular season NBA games averaged 1.99 million viewers across ESPN and ABC, even with last year and up 5% from two years ago. Separate averages for ESPN and ABC were not available. The final numbers are little changed than at the All-Star break, when ESPN was flat and ABC was down three percent.
Over on TNT, regular season games averaged 1.5 million viewers — down 12% from last year and, at best, the network’s second-smallest average since the 2007-08 season.
Early this morning NBA commissioner Adam Silver went on the TODAY show and admitted that LeBron’s move coupled with late West Coast start times affected the NBA’s ratings.
Via TODAY Show
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
Silver told TODAY that he is seriously considering changing the start time for West Coast game so that fans on the East Coast would be able to tune in at a reasonable hour.
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
Moving start times seems pretty wise considering the teams that draw the most ratings, the Lakers and the Warriors play out west.
Despite missing the playoffs, the Lakers played in 13 of the 30 most-watched games this season, more than any other team. The Warriors ranked second, with 12. Only eight of the top 30 games involved neither team, with half of those coming on Christmas Day.
H/T NBC Sports