NBA Ratings Fall As Games Become Increasingly Important

NBA Ratings Fall As Games Become Increasingly Important

NBA ratings are continuing to decline despite games becoming increasingly more important. The troubling trend is extending to Game 7s, previously the most highly-anticipated events in all of basketball.

This past Friday, Game 7 between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors averaged 4.69 million viewers on TNT. While that total was the NBA’s best showing in a long time, it was still down 32 percent from Game 7 between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers last year.

It was also the lowest viewership total for a second-round Game 7 since 2004.

Although numbers are occasionally ticking upwards as it pertains to certain individual games, year-over-year TV numbers are still down big.

The NBA is no longer in a place where it can point to outings being unimportant as an excuse for poor viewership – the Conference Finals are here. It is these games, then the finals, and then it’s over.

On Sunday, Game 6 between the Clippers and Nuggets drew 1.3 million viewers – albeit, facing intense competition from the NFL.

Across CBS and FOX the NFL drew 27 million viewers on Sunday morning.

Prior to Game 7 between Toronto and Boston last Friday night, the Clippers and Nuggets played Game 5 of their series. In total, they averaged 2.56 million viewers.

One day earlier, on Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets played the second least watched NBA game of the week, pulling in 2.496 million viewers compared to the 20.535 million viewers that tuned in for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans game that aired on NBC that night.

Football returning will certainly not help the NBA, but it was routinely losing to other sporting events anyway.

President Donald Trump recently pointed to increased social justice awareness as a cause of problems for the NBA.

“I don’t know much about the NBA protest,” he said.

“I know their ratings have been very bad, because I think people are a little tired of the NBA frankly. But I don’t know too much about the protest, but I know their ratings have been very bad, and that’s unfortunate. They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or the country.”

Which naturally led to a response from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has been defiant that ratings are not in trouble.

The truth, of course, is somewhere in between.

President Trump is likely right about politics playing some role in people tuning out (which polls have confirmed), but still overstating it to some degree.

Along the same lines, Cuban is cherry-picking favorable stats to highlight the NBA’s ratings strengths, while downplaying weaknesses.

The big problem for the NBA right now isn’t the fact that there are no potential excuses for why ratings are low.

It could be competition from other sports, cord-cutting, politics or some combination of the three.

The problem for the NBA is that it doesn’t matter.

Not really.

What matters is that in the midst of the league’s most important games of the year, it still cannot garner the audience it used to pull regularly.

Until Commissioner Adam Silver figures out how to resolve that dilemma, the NBA will continue to lose its one-time standing as the future of what all sports leagues should strive to be like.

Related: LeBron James’ Bubble Suite Revealed: Lakers Star Is Living Large

Charles Kruger

Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7's go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.


  1. Mark Cuban is a fool and will follow the crowd for whatever will make him the most money! People are sick of the political party called the BLM-NBA and are done watching it.

    1. Kneeling on 9/11 is as low as it gets. The king telling fans we are not educated enough to vote. I don’t care who the president. The ppl voted him in. Lebron says they are not educated. He drop out of school 1 yr early to joint NBA. What a hypocrite. I do t think he knows that the police office have a right to a fair trail. Maybe he needs to learn how America runs.

      1. The NBA will have more problems when ppl are allowed back into the stadiums. The fan base boycotting them have the money. I know I’m one of them with a family of 5 and going to the game. I’m ashamed that I close my eyes to long in sports to see the true colors of these ungrateful atheists athletes who are hypocrites and don’t care about their communities, fans, ppl, country, or anything. So many of these athletes have been involving in crimes. Their punks and losers. I’ve moved on, and as strange this may sound. I hope God forgives me for supporting these POS when in the back of my mind, I knew they are horrible ppl. All about them and nothing for others. King James brags $45m on a school he built. That less than 1/2 yr income and How many yrs play. That is nothing compared to what the average reasonable person would do.

    1. When the NBA doesn’t officially address racist comments towards white people while simultaneously pushing a BLM agenda, I’m out. Unacceptable and poor league leadership. Been watching the NBA for 40 years, but no longer. You can add ESPN to that boycott, too. Another organization promoting on white racism particularly with Stephen A Smith.

  2. This is hilarious. American’s are sick and tired of the political crap. Put your f***ing names back on your jerseys, STFU, and play basketball. It’s as simple as that.

  3. I personally used to be a Lakers fan. I loved “Showtime” for decades. However with black players constantly rambling on about BLM while riots are downplayed and officers getting shot while sitting in their car, I don’t want to even watch black players do anything because of their racist and political leanings. So it’s no for the NBA for the foreseeable future. Amazingly European Soccer has been great.

  4. If you don’t think it’s because of politics you are a fool. Sports must always be for all and more importantly an escape from everyday stressors. The NBA is really hurt itself when it backed China over one of their own General Managers. It might be over stated the author writes…. what would be understated is how much headupdarectalitis is having an effect on the clarity of thought.

  5. I am a veteran. My brother is a veteran. My Dad fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. My grandfather fought in world war two. My grandfather fought in world war one. Kneeling during our national Anthem is repugnant to me. I have stopped watching professional sports. For players to suggest that the country that makes it possible to earn millions of dollars playing a schoolboy’s game is a terrible place is insane. I went to the BLM website. It was founded by three women, two of whom are convicted felons. It is a Marxist organization. Karl Marx was an atheist anti semite whose ideas have been tried. How would you want to live in the former Soviet Union or even in Hong Kong today? BLM is insane, spreading hate, and anti American.

  6. I support the players right to voice their opinion and whatever they want to do…on their own time. They are on the job, they are supposed to be professionals so be professional. And to all the J.J. Reddicks in the league that don’t need fans that are upset about what you are doing…let’s see how this all works out for the NBA when ratings go down and so does revenue.

  7. Meanwhile, weekday Premier League games(without fans) on NBC Sports were up 30% from before the COVID stoppage. People are starved for live sports. The NBA should be rockin’ right now…… but it is in a heap of trouble.

  8. I’m a diehard sports fan that has turned off espn the same day as deflate gate. I’m also not watching any sports at all due to the blm bullcrap. There are other countries that would love to have you. Please do all of us patriots a favor and go insult them. God and country

  9. I used to wear NFL clothing etc. Now I would be embarrassed and ashamed to be caught watching an NFL/NBA game, or being caught wearing any of their merchandise. I honestly very rarely see anyone wearing merchandise anymore because it would be humiliating

  10. The so-called boycott did it for me. That was the last political straw.

    I don’t tune in to NBA games to be lectured and admonished. I watch to be entertained. The fact that the BLM movement has turned sour with criminality, even for many African Americans, and that many NBA players still align themselves with it, is enough for me to turn to entertainment elsewhere.

    I’ll watch tennis, cycling, rowing,, and even badminton over the NBA. Those sports continue to entertain, and they continue to be about sports, not politics.

  11. I was an avid fan, but this political nonsense has turned me away forever. I do not care what the league does to change I AM NEVER WATCHING ANOTHER GAME NOR WILL i EVER BUY ANY MERCHANDISE. If everyone did this the teams would lose money and the salaries would drop. I say boycott all sports that have become political.

  12. Everybody needs to wake up and pull themselves out of the Rabbit hole. Stop the regurgitation of social media and half news.. Both sides are getting played.
    The players creating super teams are gong to cause fans not to watch more then them protesting. When there’s only 5 teams who have a chance to win it all… who cares. Back the small city teams and boycott the super teams.

  13. I left the NBA because of the hypocritical political virtue signaling. I was a fan for 15 years but can’t stand this garbage being pushed when I just want to watch basketball.

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