NBA Ratings, Finances In Rough Shape After Bumpy 2020  

NBA Ratings, Finances In Rough Shape After Bumpy 2020  

The NBA lost a lot of money throughout the past year.

Over the last few months, the league’s finances have come under intense scrutiny. Because of how publicized basketball’s ratings woes have been, many have come to wonder what impact recent happenings have had on the NBA’s bottom line.

The NBA’s overall playoff ratings fell about 37 percent this year, but it was in the Finals where things got especially ugly. The Los Angeles Lakers’ title-clinching Game 6 against the Miami Heat did 5.6 million viewers. One year earlier, Game 6 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors did 18.34 million viewers.

This week, Sports Business Daily took a deep dive into the NBA’s financial situation post-bubble. Based on the information available, it seems clear that the league sustained heavy losses.

First and foremost – approximately 40 percent of the league’s revenue reportedly comes from its gate. Because of COVID-19, that money vanished immediately. There were no fans permitted inside the bubble, and there was no way for the NBA to fully recoup its gate income.

What the league focused on instead was making a dent in the $1.5 billion projected revenue loss that would have occurred had no basketball taken place after its COVID-19 suspension of play.

According to Sports Business Daily, “the Disney restart allowed the NBA to stem the loss of about $1.5 billion in expected revenue, the bulk of the money tied to national and local television revenue followed by league sponsorships.”

One league executive noted that the NBA’s primary objective with the bubble was “health and safety and from a business standpoint,” and that “it was important that we would finish the 2019-2020 season, crown a champion and be able to include our business and media partners.”

By restarting the season in the NBA Bubble, the league was able to fulfill various sponsorship contractual obligations thanks to virtual and hard signs posted during games. This was particularly apparent during the NBA Finals, when the league put its presenting partner “Youtube TV” at center court. Never before had advertising been that blatant and in your face.

This helped mitigate some of the damage, but the bleeding could only be stopped to a certain degree.

In addition to the lost gate, the NBA also was forced to deal with being kept off China’s CCTV for months as a result of the Daryl Morey debacle. With Morey now no longer a member of the Houston Rockets’ front office, all parties involved will attempt to move on – but it remains to be seen if there will be any lingering ramifications.

Beyond that, it is still unclear what sort of expenses individual franchises have been burdened with as a result of COVID-19. That information has not yet been collected and released, but early whispers indicate that things aren’t looking good.

All of those factors will play a role in negotiations between the NBA and its players going forward. Salary cap projections are based on estimated revenue, and at the moment, the league is having a difficult time pinning down just how much of a hit it has taken in recent months.

This will come into play when a star like Giannis Antetokounmpo is attempting to decide whether he wants his contract to be 35 percent of this year’s cap or next year’s cap. In order to make that choice, he has to have a clear idea of what those numbers represent. And at the moment — he doesn’t.

While it will likely take a few more months to truly understand how damaging the triple whammy of COVID-19, Morey’s China tweet, and declining ratings totals will be to the NBA’s and short and long-term finances, it’s safe to assume the numbers will be significant.

How will that impact player compensation going forward? An answer to that should become apparent in the coming weeks and months.

Related: Bucks Make Final Decision On Giannis Antetokounmpo Trade

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 didn’t watch the NBA this year because they were talking to much politics, when I watch sports I want to have a good time and relax. Thanks

    1. This is such an absurd article on multiple fronts. First, in an article written about why the NBA ratings are down, not mentioning the BLM movement is silly, but of course we cannot rely on the media to actually tell the truth 😂😂😂 Maybe even more pathetically, they imply that DM caused tensions and eluded to it being a factor in lost ratings. Why is this pathetic? DM spoke out against human rights violations In China, which according to this writer is attached to The ratings drop. Yet, he conveniently forgets to mention the BLM movement as a reason for lost ratings. I guess taking a stand against human rights violations is only correct when it’s in support of a Marxist organization that hates the police 😂🤷‍♂️ Yikes..

  2. I read this article and the writer did not say a damn thing about bringing race and politics into the sport! I personally think among all my friends that USED to watch these games have decided not to mostly because of those two factors! If your gonna write an article such as this at least be honest!!

  3. So we’re ignoring the elephant in the room are we? I, like most people I know who stopped watching, it was 100% due to the NBA pushing far left nonsense. I don’t want to see players disrespecting the flag and anthem or wearing the names of criminals on their jerseys, or painting the name of a Marxist organization on the court. Thanks, but until that changes, I’m done.

    If you want to preach politics, become a politician. People should watch sports to be entertained and see a sense of national unity… not divisive extremist views from a bunch of overpaid political activists.

  4. I didn’t watch it because it was a sham. Had nothing to do with politics and most of the people posting don’t watch basketball. Major League Baseball, college football, and hockey was down and they didn’t lean left, it’s so called the American pastime. All sports are down. Reason is people spent the whole summer without sports and found that life does not revolve around TV. When sports came back the people kept going on with life without TV. The only sport that did not see a drop is the only sport that never really stopped. UFC and they jumped deep into the political waters on the right. So politics had nothing to do with. UFC is a prime time sporting event when most people have completed there day.

    1. What are you smoking? The MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS, and NCAA all espoused far-left politics. The UFC is the only sport that we, but not you since you’re a Communist, have left.

  5. 100% just ignored the real reason the ratings are down and they know damn well it’s over the politic bull crap, blaming this on Covid is a joke people are at home more than ever now there ratings should be the highest ever

  6. All sport’s would have had record ratings if they would just stuck to sports. You can all deny it all you want.

  7. The NBA is dead as far as I am concerned. All these multi millionaire athletes spewing off social just issues when 90 plus percent of players are black. They are nothing more than entertainers, nobody cares about their personal opinions. Teither play real basketball or make it the playground league. Personally, it would not bother me if the whole league folded and go broke, especially the owners and vultures in the front office. Keep their social justice opinions on the outside and jeep basketball in the gym.
    Too much money has corrupted the whole system. See how they like playing under communist rule.

  8. I dont need a professional athlete, or professional sports league to jam political propaganda down my throat. I actually increased my TV viewership by ten fold this year and didn’t watch the NBA because of the political lies the league was endorsing.

    1. Amen. I’m right there with you. This is the first year I didn’t watch the NBA. Sick of the left liberal anti American politics. Just play the game, leave the politics out of it.

  9. You aint seen nothing yet, NBA. But don’t worry, I’m sure your beloved Chinese masters will look after you.

    Enjoy those smaller contracts, idiot players. You can thank Ming James.

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