As we head into the final stretch of the 2021 NBA season, the National Basketball Association continues to see its ratings plummet.
Last year, the NBA Finals was down 50 percent in viewership compared to the year before. There is no doubt that some of that can be contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a certain awkwardness that comes from watching a game be played without fans. And more than that, the NBA Finals was pushed back to the fall of 2020, which had them competing for views with Sunday Night Football, the MLB and NHL Playoffs, and college football.
But even with the return of a more normal regular season, the NBA has seen their ratings go down by double digits. Austin Karp, the managing and business editor at the Sports Business Journal, posted the findings on Twitter on Monday night.
“NBA viewership is down 13% headed into last week of the season (TNT, ABC, and ESPN compared to 2019-2020 regular season),” Karp wrote. “Lakers continue to be a top draw (and should draw solid figure against Knicks on TNT tomorrow).”
Fans Give Their Thoughts on Low NBA Ratings
There are certainly a number of different reasons for the NBA’s decline in viewership.
Fans on Twitter seem to have their own thoughts. One Twitter user says that too many star basketball players sit out of regular-season games so they can be healthy for the playoffs.
“Can’t sell the fan the regular season matters when all the Big Stars are sitting out protecting themselves for playoffs. If you turned on NFL games & instead of getting Rodgers, Lamar, Mahomes, Etc under center you got backup Qbs. See how fast NFL numbers drop. Playing matters!”
Another NBA fan talked about how the league’s games aren’t that accessible without a cable subscription.
“Regular season NBA sometimes feels meaningless, but the business model is also messy. They market heavily to young people, but NBA is totally linked to cable subscriptions, which most young people don’t want. And NBA League Pass is much too expensive, esp. compared to MLB At Bat.”
And tying in with the reply above, one person says the league loses viewers due to “illegal streams.”
In reality, there are various different aspects at play as to why fewer people are watching professional basketball today. But the numbers don’t lie — the league continues to see historic lows in ratings.