NBA Playoff Ratings Down 39 Percent

NBA Playoff Ratings Down 39 Percent

NBA Playoff Ratings Down 39 Percent

The NBA Playoffs began on Monday with four first-round games spanning from mid-morning to late night.

Overall, the opening day of the pro basketball postseason averaged 1.71 million viewers for ESPN. That number was 39 percent lower than the 2.82 million average from last year.

Before delving deeper into the specifics, it is important to offer some context.

Last year, the playoffs began on a Saturday and included an ABC primetime slot. This year, the games took place on a weekday and did not feature a single ABC-broadcasted outing.

Comparing last year’s NBA Playoff day 1 ratings versus this year’s is not truly an apples-to-apples measurement. But it does still speak to a broader, much-discussed ratings problem that pro basketball has been dealing with as of late.

Daytime games in the COVID era are not the same thing as daytime games prior to it. A lot of people are still working from home and have their TVs on – even as background noise.

Moreover, it’s not like daytime, weekday athletic events are always ratings stinkers.

The NCAA’s March Madness Tournament is one of the most beloved sports happenings of the year despite often falling on weekdays.

This year’s showdown between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, one of the more intriguing outings on the calendar, averaged 2.10 million viewers. That number is down 57 percent from the 4.83 million that the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors averaged last year.

Earlier in the day, the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets played a fun one that averaged 1.18 million viewers – down 42 percent from the 2.04 million average a showdown between the Brooklyn Nets and Sixers game did last year.

Monday’s battle between the defending champion Toronto Raptors and Nets averaged 1.30 million viewers – down 47 percent from a similar game last year between the Raptors and Orlando Magic which averaged 2.44 million.

The lone bright spot of the day for the NBA came when the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks averaged 2.28 million viewers for their mostly thrilling late-night matchup. That number was up 25 percent from last year’s battle between the San Antonio Spurs and Nuggets which averaged 1.83 million.

Related: Ayyyejae Hooked Up With 7 Suns Players In 1 Night?

NBA Playoff Ratings Are Suddenly A Big Deal

Sports TV ratings, especially the NBA’s, have become something of a hot topic in recent times. Critics use the numbers to cite growing dissatisfaction with the product itself. Fans dismiss them as a sign of the times, arguing that streaming and social media have far more to do with the declines than anything else.

If the NBA Playoff ratings go up over the next few weeks as the stakes get higher and the less interesting teams are weeded out, then all the viewership panic will become an afterthought.

However, if the numbers don’t improve, there will likely need to be a reckoning of some sort regarding why a sport that gets so much play on social media and TV is struggling so badly when it comes to people actually watching its games.

Related: Unhappy Giannis Antetokounmpo Reveals What Must Happen In Game 2

Carlos Garcia

A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.


  1. I stopped watching because I don’t believe in the ideology of BLM and the NBA stamps it on their court. I want to watch competition, not hypocritical virtue signaling.

    1. You forgot to mention that half the players are now named BLM on their jerseys also which is totally ridiculous… the NBA should make all players wear their name on their jerseys or nothing but their number! I could just imagine young children watching the game asking their dad “who’s that daddy” and getting the reply “I don’t know son everyone of them seems to have the same name BLM.”

  2. The nba players are promoting a racist violent agenda in blm. People don’t watch sports players to get political opinions. They are paid because they are good athletes, not for their lack of political intelligence. Here is 2 factual statements from BLM leadership. If you support them then by proxy you support these statements.
    Black Lives Matter leadership statements:
    1. If a black person becomes a police officer they are no longer black.
    2. If America doesn’t support our agenda we will burn it down.
    3. We want to destroy the American nuclear family

    1. This year’s playoffs began on a weekday, this is true. Problem with that excuse to justify the 39% drop in ratings is that a much higher percentage of people are at home this year due to the pandemic, and yes, they are watching tv. The product is not worth the extra drama. NBA has always had their fan’s support, why would a player wear a jersey reading ‘respect us’? Btw, who is ‘us’? Sounds divisive. If you have beef with cops, stop being cowards and save your spiel for them, don’t vent on the fans who helped propel your inflated salaries.

  3. I’m not interested in the BLM agenda or the opinions of uneducated wealthy black privileged NBA players.
    Only 21% of NBA players have college degrees which is why so many go broke after signing million dollar contracts. I don’t understand how Americans allow uneducated black (or white) men to have a platform to speak about social issues they have no idea about just because they are good at a sport. I will never watch another NBA game.

    1. Agree with you on that, my friend! I never harmed anyone yet I am considered a racist! Must be an election year and there go them demoncrats spouting off their favorite buzz word! Vote Republican and stop the violence in the streets.

  4. The NBA used to be something I loved. For decades. But I refuse to watch virtue-signalling hypocrites who defend their genocidal Chinese overlords. I am done for good. All lives matter.

  5. Fan for nearly 30 years.. every single person I know will not watch anymore because of the politics. Get woke, go broke. Done for life! The apologists can spin it however they want… anyone who is not dumb knows why the ratings are down.

  6. Sad but I will not watch a professional league who wants to support one of the most racist organizations in this great country. In your face type of support to boot. NFL should pay attention. Although MLB did so for one day, its not in your face and one can watch without being reminded every time you turn on the game of BLM agenda.or any political opinion. Its freakin a game. Leave politics out of it or pay the price.

  7. The NBA took it too far they didn’t need to put Black Lives Matter on the court, it looks ridiculous. The “statements” on the back of the jerseys are a joke as well. The Silent majority is real and you are seeing it here. Hopefully the NFL doesn’t follow suit. I understand they will let players kneel which i personally don’t agree with but I hope they stop at that. An NBA game has become a 2-1/2 hour BLM commercial. A group that wants to ruin the way of life for regular everyday people. I’d advise anyone who is even on the fence to not buy any NBA merchandise. I’ve been an athlete and played basketball my whole life, still do with my kids and it’s sad to see what the NBA has become, kneeling to slave laboring China because they are all about the money.

  8. I am with the, “we are all the same team”, and loved to watch the the NBA Playoffs but will not be subjected to watching the rich NBA stars with political agendas. Lets work to change the world together.

  9. The BLM agenda calls for the abolishment of prisons, de-funding the police and reparations for slavery (to be funded by tax payers and those who work hard just to get by). Why on earth would any normal person support this Anarchist and Marxist organization? I will not be one of the sheep, and will never watch another NBA game. I loved the NBA for most of my life, and now have zero interest.

  10. They ruined it for everyone. They forget they are paid to sing and dance. Go political and people bail. The vast, vast majority of white and black Americans are very decent and nice people. They are not racist. This is all built on a pack of lies. Our country elected and relected a black man And suddenly it’s a racist place again? This is all a sham……if BLM was serious (and they aren’t) they’d demand these companies build manufacturing plants in the areas where low income or out of work people live. Level a few blocks, built a plant, hire and train.

    But BLM just wants to skim the loot for personal greed. After the election, BLM goes via Occupy, war on women, anti war protests, right?!

    1. I think the sports markets are getting to see how the majority of people feel about sports leagues picking the BLM movement over being an American. Wait til the NFL hits and then maybe the NBA will be happy with the declines they suffered because they wont look as bad as the NFLs will. LOL i even got rid of all forms of television packages so not a dime will go to any sports organizations. I enjoy sports as most people do but i love my country more!!!

  11. #GetWokeGoBroke

    Nobody wants to watch a bunch of black millionaires crying about systemic racism. If systemic racism existed they would never be millionaires for playing basketball.

  12. By pushing a political agenda into the faces of the fans all the NBA has succeeded in doing is alienating those fans….the ratings will not recover as the playoffs continue they’re going to get worse. I’ve personally followed the NBA for 30 years and have not watched a single game since the restart.

    By ignoring the Dem movement in China and going all in on BLM the hypocrisy could not be clearer. The problem is the NBA went all in way too early, based on initial favorable ratings of BLM by the media. They though there would be no financial consequences for the actions….as opposed to a huge financial hit if they supported the Hong Kong protesters. Well, it looks right now that bet was way off base and there will be a huge price to pay for their actions (and the TV ratings are the initial proof). By next season the NBA will looking hard for a way to exit their advocacy of the BLM movement…..the question is will alienated fans come back or just view it as more hypocrisy?

  13. NBA’s players self destruction at its best. Basketball fans are not tuning in to be reminded of all of the political divisiveness In the country. Keep your opinions and agendas out of the workplace! So tired of it! I am finished watching. Not entertaining in the least.

  14. I have been a huge NBA fan my whole life. Sports used to be an escape, but now it is fake news.
    No fun to watch anymore with all this BLM stuff. And I sure will not go to a game again and
    pay $100 for ticket and a beer just to be at a game where I am not appreciated.

  15. When the democrats realized chief race bating hater Al Sharpton was finally being seen as the con artist he is, they turned to LaBron James as their tool with all his twitter followers. BLM movement has nothing to do with race, it is strictly a power grab. The democratic socialist/marxist/communists led by AOC are trying to overthrow the democratic party by force. Classic Sal Alinsky. Here’s a fact to consider-a law abiding and honest black person in the US has a 5 times greater chance of being struck by lightening than being shot by a police officer. If you are a violent career criminal like George Floyd, etc -not so much. Sadly, the criminals are winning-47 police officers murdered by criminals last year versus only 9 unarmed black men shot by police. I am one American who will never watch or support the NBA again-and has others have commented, there are millions more who will be doing the same.

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