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As NBA Ratings Mysteriously Fall, UFC Ratings Rise

As NBA Ratings Mysteriously Fall, UFC Ratings Rise

As the NBA continues to struggle to attract the sort of viewership it had last year, the UFC is seeing the opposite happen.

Despite meaningful postseason basketball being played on a daily basis, NBA Playoff viewership has dropped from 2.39 million average viewers in 2019 to 1.68 million in 2020. That is a 30 percent decline.

Meanwhile, the UFC’s four preliminary cards since the promotion returned from its COVID-inspired hiatus have done an average of 1.17 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN+. That number is up 30 percent from what pay-per-view preliminary cards did in 2019.

Mind you, UFC pay-per-view preliminary cards largely feature unknown or past-their-prime talents. It is unsurprising that, on average, NBA Playoff games would draw more viewers. What is significant, however, is the fact that average UFC ratings are trending upwards at a time when the NBA’s are trending downward.

Related: Aaron Rodgers Has A Message For Cops

NBA Ratings Decline Is Baffling

When the sports apocalypse hit back in mid-March, most leagues delayed play until some clarity regarding COVID-19 could emerge. Popular wisdom at the time was that when sports did return, they would do massive figures.

Fast forward five months and that prediction hasn’t quite played out.

The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues around on social media. Its content inundates Twitter and Instagram. And yet despite its seemingly undeniable place in the public’s consciousness, the ratings continue to plummet.

Last week, Game 2 between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers did 2.28 million viewers. That number is down 18 percent from what the Clippers did against the Golden State Warriors in 2019.

If you want to assume that it was the Warriors that were responsible for the higher number – throw that game out. Last year’s Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets showdown still did 11 percent better in viewership than Mavericks-Clippers.

Mavericks-Clippers has been arguably the most interesting series in the entire first round of the playoffs. The fact that it is being outdrawn regularly by significantly worse games from 2019 is telling.

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers played a far less competitive series, but their ratings follow a similar blueprint. Game 2 between Boston and Philly did 1.71 million viewers. That is 40 percent lower than what the Brooklyn Nets and Sixers did in the same time period in 2019.

By any objective measure, the NBA’s ratings are experiencing a lull that cannot be easily explained.

Related: Colin Kaepernick’s NFL Career Is Officially Over

UFC Ratings Increase Is Surprising

The only thing more unexpected than the fact that NBA ratings keep dropping is the UFC’s impressive ratings spike.

The UFC has held four pay-per-views since its big return. UFC 249 in May, UFC 250 in June, UFC 251 in July and UFC 252 in August. While the pay-per-views themselves are obviously, well, pay-per-views, the prelims for them air on ESPN and its streaming channel ESPN+.

The preliminary cards for those four events averaged 1.173 million viewers. That number is up from the roughly 900,000 average viewers the UFC was doing on its prelims in 2019.

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What Is Behind These Ratings Shifts?

There are a lot of things that go into TV viewership. Overall, ratings are down across the board for many shows and sporting events. Some of it is due to cord-cutting and scheduling times, no doubt. Part of it is probably a reflection on the on-air products.

That said, it becomes a lot harder to excuse away the NBA’s consistent ratings declines when a fight promotion that regularly hides its most notable stars from free TV is seeing its ratings go the other way.

Yes, the NBA’s ratings are going down in a time when many others are experiencing drops. But not everybody. Not the UFC.

At a certain point, maybe at the end of this season, NBA executives are going to need to have an honest conversation regarding why there is such a massive disparity between how much people talk about  their league and how much people actually watch it.

The problem isn’t just cord-cutting. It is bigger than that. And the sooner the NBA figures out what it is, the sooner it will be able to fix it.

Related: Zac Taylor Gets Brutally Honest About Joe Burrow

Anthony Amador

A recent graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador has been credentialed to cover the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and high school games all over the Lone Star State. Currently, his primary beats are the NBA, MLB, NFL and UFC.

103 Comments

  1. Just maybe the majority of Americans don’t like seeing the flag disrespected and don’t like to lectured by spoiled millionaires who kiss China’s ass?

      1. They should spend about 4-5 billion on investigating what exactly is Making the NBA #’s go down, and UFC #’s go up simultaneously! I will lead the investigation going back MONTHS in US history to do comparative analysis and social economics, i’ll do my due diligence. I should have the results within a week or so, just please send check to 122 IMAFUCKINMORON Drive, DONTKNOWSHIT, CO. Fifth Column.

    1. That’s because black lives matter more than Chinese lives according to the nba. No interest in the nba being a hipocrite.

    2. It’s amazing to me these articles are written at all. The author clearly knows what the problem is, but by god, how dare we publish something about ‘get woke go broke’!?!?

    3. Cry some more. Your president manufactures a lot of shit in china hypocrite. He is only attacking china so your brain ignores that he is doing the exact same thing as the communists in terms of propaganda and ballot blocking at the post office. bootlicker

  2. It’s really not that baffling to see the NBA ratings down. They are propagating a false and dangerous narrative while at the same time bringing politics into sports. Something fans did not ask for.

    1. the question is though, do fans of both political sides see it the same way? are they equally annoyed, or only a certain side?

      1. I would usually watch 20 or so games and the entire playoffs but I’m done. They’re rich racists who pretend they’re victims. Sports used to provide divided people common ground.

    2. Agreed.
      BLM is nothing more than a marxist takeover. They could care less about blacks. Blacks are being used by this organization.

  3. My thoughts exactly ‘Bladeslinger’. NBA went full-on ‘woke’ and now they’re seeing that many of their viewers do not share their enthusiasm for lawlessness and rioting..

  4. Yeah, the NBA ratings decline is such a mystery… Is the author of this article retarded or something? Since the NBA resumed all their games are basically daytime spots during the work week. You can’t compare those ratings to primetime from last season.

  5. How absolutely silly an article and a writer to obviously know what the answer is and skirt around it and such a goofy way. It’s obvious you did just graduate get to the point and quit boring this s*** out of people.

  6. The article’s author will explain why he’s just as baffled as the rest of the establishment media.
    “A recent graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador…”

  7. What a mystery?? Are you serious?? It’s called invading the arena with political mumbojumbo! When you begin to understand that we like your institution for enternainment and not your politics, then and only then will we come back!

  8. Obvious that the author is in the media bubble complete with an echo chamber if he is unable to figure out the decline. Just shut up and play basketball!

  9. I sure hope the author is using the word “Mysteriously” ironically. Because he’s an idiot if he isn’t lol

  10. I am a veteran. My brother, father, grandfather are veterans. Taking a knee during the National Anthem is repugnant to me. There are better ways to improve pur country. I am not going to watch anything that starts with kneeling during the National Anthem.

    1. Lol but grabbing a hot dog during the anthem is okay hahaha veteran here too, and medic currently still fighting covid. You’re so ignorant it’s crazy man.

      1. What’s so ignorant about practicing your values? looks like you didn’t finish school, a military career, and experience… YOU ARE THE IGNORANT.

      1. Nothing more rich than seeing someone chastise another for their spelling then immediately misspell “breath” in the same … umm, in the same BREATH.

        You can’t make this stuff up.

  11. Baffling!
    It obviously has nothing to do with the NBA kissing China’s ass and ignoring their blatant human rights abuses while lecturing us in the US about woke causes.

    F LeBron. F Curry. F the NBA.

    1. Agreed. It is certainly the Black Lives Matter Crap. They paint it on the court ? They kneel for the Anthem ? The play messages throughout the game ? They wear their hateful messages on their jerseys ? Why should I watch and support a bunch of people who hate me ?

  12. It’s obvious alright, except for the reasons everyone on here says. It’s obvious our country is full ignorant racists who can’t handle politics with their sports because it’s too awkward to talk about and deal with a truth. Wonder why the most diverse state is the 5th largest gdp in the world? Lol probably don’t even understand the question.

    1. Wonder why most diverse state is losing population and businesses? It became 5th largest in GDP before Democrats start running it to the ground. CA is going the way of Venezuela.

    2. That “5th largest state is losing people fast.And you need to do some homework. California was conservative in it’s hey day of the 1970’s and 80’s, that is when it had it’s growth. Clinton was the 1st Dem president Cali ever voted for and he was moderate…..at the time.

  13. “mysteriously”? the NBA was a joke BEFORE the political posturing intensified.
    Don’t even bother to play the games. Just let each player come out, air his racial grievances, kneel or raise a clenched fist or whatever his favorite gesture is and do a runway twirl to show off his uniform propaganda. The team which appears most woke will be declared the winner..

  14. I guess at this point whole NBA should move to China and learn first hand about not fake “structural” but real racism. Get familiar with real police brutality and consequences of kneeling during the Chinese anthem. Bye bye idiots, we won’t miss you.

  15. I wouldn’t waste my time reading this article based on the title, but felt compelled to comment because it’s such a “Mystery” the ratings are falling. 🤦🏻‍♂️🤣I can’t imagine even the FBI or CIA could solve this mystery.

  16. How in the hell does the league and media not get it? Most Americans are not as woke as the media and sports leagues. It’s not the cause, it’s lefts solution to the problem. Insulting fans and burning down cities are not the way to bring people to support your cause.

  17. What’s baffling, is that neither the writer of this story nor the NBA see the writing on the wall. That’s what’s baffling.

  18. The biggest tragedy of all of this is the journalist has to HIDE the reason( for horrific NBA ratings) and LIE and act BAFFLED that he can’t(elephant in the room)understand why the NBA ratings are in the toilet,.What a sadd existence~Wanting to become a journalist( as a kid) and then have to be a stoolie(for your newspaper) to keep your job and not be a JOURNALIST,. It’s just a tragedy of the current(and recent) modern twisted liberal communist servitude we’re faced with,.Woww

  19. To the idiot female bragging that CA has the 5th largest economy in the world. If CA was a country they would have to pay for an Army, Navy and Air Force Rge . PC imbeciles in Sacramento can’t even pay for their public employee (parasites) pension obligations let alone a national defense budget..

  20. ok maybe just maybe some racism in part of the players to include the team the owners the media! It’s a game dribble pass or sit on the bench don’t get involved with important world issues! America 🇺🇸 1st and always!

  21. Mesteriously? Really? Lol. Not one guess eh? Not a clue? It’s so mysterious. Couldn’t be the NBAs promotion of the Marxist, Communist, America-hating BLM. Nah. Couldn’t be the NBAs love affair with Communist China. Nah. It couldn’t be the NBAs promotion of murderous rioters. Nah. Couldn’t be the tone deaf black millionaires telling everyone how blacks are oppressed.

  22. There are 2 reasons: (1) As most commenters have corrected noted politics has NO place in sports. People want to be entertained when they watch a sporting event not lectured about unpopular political viewpoints. According to the latest polls, BLM is supported by 48% of the populace but the MAJORITY of White Americans now have a negative opinion of the Marxist organization; (2) professional basketball is no longer fun to watch. Most of the teams (like the Knicks) stink and play playground basketball. In my opinion, college basketball (esp.March Madness) is much more entertaining.

  23. How is this perplexing?
    Facts:
    – 4months of fans having withdrawals. Craving to watch sports
    -Unemployment is up & tons more working from home where they can easily watch the game in background
    -other less divisive leagues are doing fine
    -NBA slapping fans at every turn with politics that most Americans (white and black: look at polls in black communities whether they want to dismantle police) don’t agree with (PRIVATELY where twitter mob won’t get them)
    Bottom line:
    NBA league and players continue to be the most “bark and no bite” entity in the world. From hypocrisy of China to them quitting games demanding change when 80% of players AREN’T REGISTERED TO VOTE

  24. Really? You can’t figure it out. Try this..NBA, No Basketball Association. It became more about player politics than basketball entertainment. I will not watch.

  25. Meanwhile, MLB ratings are up from 2019. Mainstream media will play dumb just like they did with the NFL a few years ago.

  26. Mystery. The fact that NBA players boycott their own games when some farts…can’t figure out why most Americans are tired of the NBA double standards and antics. Good news though…the WNBA is going to provide financial help to bail your league out and pay the salaries of your poor millionaire players who have been so maligned by this racist country.

  27. Mystery. The fact that NBA players boycott their own games when someone farts…can’t figure out why most Americans are tired of the NBA double standards and antics. Good news though…the WNBA is going to provide financial help to bail your league out and pay the salaries of your poor millionaire players who have been so maligned by this racist country.

  28. Does the author of the article really think it’s a mystery why NBA ratings are down? Seriously?? Maybe if these rich, entitled babies stayed in their own lane, we’d still be watching. After all, they are there to entertain us, not lecture us.

  29. Mysteriously fall? Look how dishonest these liberal writers are. The modern Walter Duranties. So lets help this fake news amateur reporter – NBA ratings fall for being too woke and disrespecting the flag and UFC rating rise for doing the opposite…something along these lines. You go against Trump you lose.

  30. What are you serious when you state “dont know why the ratings are down?” Its because these hard working, rich basketball players are supporting criminals just because their skin color is the same! WTFU AMERICA!!

  31. “Mysteriously fall”???? are you a fucktad? ask for your money back from that college as you obviously are clueless.

  32. If I wanted a lecture about how much my white skin is responsible for the evil in the world I’d sign up for a gender studies course. I want sports not a lecture about how racist I am for just existing.

  33. You have to be an IDIOT to put “Mysteriously” in the title lmfao! Please for yourself stop being a writer you suck at it.

  34. Are you REALLY pretending that the ratings decline is mysterious? OMG! Could it be that the VAST majority of the population doesn’t support BLM and cannot stand professional athletes disrespecting the flag? Unfortunately, professional sports leagues are alienating the majority of their customers. Within 5 years, pro sports will be dead.

  35. Yeah, it has nothing to do with the disrespecting of the flag, the radical left politics, and the constant race baiting. I couldn’t imagine what it could be that’s causing the drop?

  36. For the record, I agree with the comments above. The players and the league ignore Hong Kong and the mistreatment of children in the NBA’s camps in China. I haven’t watched a game since the return. However, I do respect that you allowed comments. It gives the readers a chance to articulate what you obviously aren’t unable to say.

  37. Mysterious! Ha! The guy on the left in your thumbnail is a patriot. The guy on the right is a racist commie. No mystery there.

  38. Anthony Amador for the Pulitzer with this extraordinary piece of journalism! Although I must admit I only read the title then had to jump straight to the comments on this gem. Thanks for saving me the 90 seconds it would have taken to read this trash.

  39. “NBA Rating Declines is Baffling” – really? Is the author of this article oblivious to how politically radical the NBA has become? I’m sure it has nothing to do with NBA Superstars choosing checks from China over human decency, nothing to do with the disrespect for the flag and America in general (which has given them everything they have), and nothing to do with the disrespect for law enforcement.

    What a JOKE of an article. The refusal to admit why something is happening (in this case, why the NBA ratings are down) is how you end up Making America Great… AGAIN.

  40. A.) The face of your league is Lebron James who is a brain dead MORON B.) You packaged politics and tried to sell it as basketball
    C.) Your greed fueled jersey advertisements are ridiculous D.) People watch sports to escape from all the other crap going on in the world
    E.) Marketing 101… make your brand inclusive to a large demographic! You did the opposite. TRULY BAFFLING!!!

  41. I’m done watching the NBA so long as they keep promoting an organization that hates America and puts criminal black lives as the only ones that matter.

  42. 1. These pompous ass players have no respect for the viewers.
    2. When the China thing came around they were too cowardly to stand up for America, except 1 person who was not a player, I’m not sure if he was a manager! Then he got hammered for speaking!
    3. The kneeling is outrageous! They don’t stand for America. There are other places you can protest but you chose to do it before a game.
    4. Then along comes BLM and everywhere you look on the basketball court all you see is BLM! That is pitiful! ALL AMERICAN LIVES MATTER
    5, I was sports fanatic gear & all when a game came on but, no more! I have given up the NBA, NFL, MLB, Hockey, WNBA, and so on.
    Every single one of you players in all leagues has ruined it because you think you are mightier than though, and you wonder why no one wants to watch you, You don’t give a crap about your viewers that might not want to be plastered with all your hate every time a game is on.

  43. So who is controlling the mainstream media? This brainwashing is so blatant and obvious. This writer cannot truly be perplexed by the severe NBA ratings decline. He is obviously being told what he can and cannot say. It is so sad to see that the communication only goes one way in this supposedly “free country”. If you don’t embrace Marxism, violence, looting, burning and de-funding of the police, you must be a racist.

  44. You get to see how much the Burn Loot Mayhem motto of the NBA is working for them. So well that people across the country just turn it off.

  45. Oh I don’t doubt for a second that you are baffled!
    A lot of things baffle you!

    But let’s be serious: Dana White spoke at the Republican Convention and LeBron James called us all racists.
    Republican VS Democrat.
    Trump will win in a landslide and this ‘gee, we’re baffled’ BS is just more smoke and mirrors trying to hide the effect of The Democrat Riots on Joe Biden’s chances to win.
    The same way that gun and ammo sales in hard left Democrat states and cities point to a Trump landslide and the need for massive voter fraud by Democrats and their media fluffers.

  46. Maybe another reason is that Americans don’t support China putting the Uighurs into concentration camps and harvesting their organs.
    The NBA actively supports China.

  47. -I never cared if you were “gay” until you started shoving it in my face, and the faces of my children.
    -I never cared what color you were, until you started blaming my race for your problems.
    -I never cared about your political affiliation until you started to condemn me for mine.
    -I never cared where you were born until you wanted to erase my history and blame my ancestors for your current problems.
    -I never cared if you were well-off or poor until you said you were discriminated against when I was promoted because I worked harder.
    -I never cared if your beliefs were different from mine until you said my beliefs were wrong.
    NOW I CARE!
    My patience and tolerance are gone.
    I’m not alone in feeling this way, there are millions of us who do……and we have had enough!
    -Anonymous

  48. Note to NBA, MLB, NFL players…….If I wanted the opinion of someone who chases a ball around, I’d ask my dog. The response would be far more intelligent than any of the utter nonsense vomited up by you addle-minded millionaire morons.

  49. “A recent graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador has been credentialed ….”

    Yeah, credentialed.
    Not educated, just credentialed.
    Education and credentials are not the same thing, and education and intelligence are not the same thing.
    If he were educated he might be able to solve this huge mystery of the falling ratings.

    But I do extend my thanks to the NBA and NHL for suspending their games during the Republican National Convention, I’m sure that gave many more people the option of watching the GOP demonstrate how they don’t hate Americans like the Democrats do.

  50. The NBA cancelled games because a guy did this…

    Blake is accused in the criminal complaint, which was obtained by The Post, of breaking into the home of a woman he knew and sexually assaulting her.
    The victim, who is only identified by her initials in the paperwork, told police she was asleep in bed with one of her children when Blake came into the room around 6 a.m. and allegedly said, “I want my sh-t,” the record states.
    She told cops Blake then used his finger to sexually assault her, sniffed it and said, “Smells like you’ve been with other men,” the criminal complaint alleges.
    Police were attempting to arrest him for violating a restraining order stemming from the alleged sexual assault. He resisted arrest, physically wrestling with the cops, then got shot by the cops.

    This is why the NBA cancelled games. This is the reason why. If someone made this up, you would never believe it. Games were cancelled because the above happened. The NBA can disappear, along with the NHL and MLB, for all I care.

  51. Sorry, not woke enough for this cowboy.
    If they REALLY cared they would shut the league down for the entire year and donate all of their salaries to BLM and fire every white person even remotely employed by the league or any of the broadcasters covering the league.

    And what about that poor woman in Canada that just wants to get her ladyballs waxed?
    Why don’t they put her name at center field?
    Don’t they care about transexuals who can’t get their ladyballs waxed?
    How can they be so heartless and uncaring???

  52. I am not a sports fan, never watch basketball or other team sports – yet to me, it’s pretty obvious why fewer and fewer fans are watching – it’s the politics! Sports fans watch games because they want to be entertained – they do NOT want to be lectured about politics or the social issues of the day. For the same reason, viewership of Hollywood awards shows has gone down and continues to down – nobody wants to watch multi-millionaires lecturing us, the ”little people”, about whom we should vote for and what policies we should support.

  53. Yeah gee, I wonder why??? All the dumb elites talk about being woke. Uhh NO, they need to wake the F up. They don’t rely on logic and facts, try to preach to us what should be done. It’s like a damn cult. No GD logic. Mind boggling how unintelligent and irrational people can be. Stand up for a man that just sexually assaulted a woman with his finger and when cops replied to 911 call , Blake resists. Lebron, you want to help?? Stop the victim mentality and preach responsibility………..

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