The 2020 NBA Finals Ratings Are Historically Bad. But Why?
The ratings for the NBA finals are at an all-time low. While some have pointed the finger at boycotting gamers and a social justice movement as the reason for the decline, it could be a number of factors affecting viewership.
Set NBA attendance records: The NBA finals have 48% fewer viewers than last year. In the first three games, the NBA final averaged 6.71 million viewers. The decrease in viewers in the first three games was -43%, -52% and -56%.
Some thought a finals series with Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat would see a better audience.
The NBA Finals will air on ABC, a Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) company. Previous NBA playoff games have aired on ESPN and AT&T (NYSE: T).
Other Sports: The audience numbers for the MLB playoffs are down 39% compared to last season. At the start of the NFL season, the games see 14% fewer viewers. In the NHL playoffs, attendance fell 25%, including a 61% drop for the Stanley Cup final.
The Kentucky Derby drew 9.3 million viewers against an average of 15 million for its scheduled September race.
Reasons for the decline: Nielsen Media Research seems to suppress any notion that viewers don't tune in because of the league's striving for social justice.
The audience for the 2020 NBA playoffs is 45% white and 55% non-white. This corresponds to a mix of 46% / 54% for last year's NBA playoffs.
The main reason for the drop in views could simply be the timing of the season. A typical NBA season closes its playoffs by June, compared to October this year.
Another factor could be that the NBA competes against other sports for spectators. Game 3 of the NBA Finals was the first time a final game had played against the NFL.
The 2020 presidential election could also contribute to the drop in audience numbers. Cable networks such as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN are seeing increases in prime time viewership. Game 3 was also overshadowed by President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.
Why It Matters: NBA players boycotted games in August after resuming the season. The NBA had already lost $ 1 billion to a shortened season and risked losing $ 1 billion to the premature end of the playoffs.
Last year's NBA playoffs generated $ 932 million in advertising revenue. Disney had stated that they would see new advertisers for the resumed season.
Live sports remain one of the key markets for advertisers as they are more cable-cutter-safe than shows. The decline in viewership for sports could have an impact on advertising costs in the future.
Courtesy of the NBA via YouTube
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