Monday, June 15, 2009

Do People Still Like The NBA?

The Lakers won. Yawn. They were the favorites from the beginning of the season, they were big favorites once Kevin Garnett went down and HUGE favorites when LeBron sulked out of the playoffs.

So there you go. Lak
ers fans rejoice and go about your day in a state of effulgence. Other fans complain about the Pau Gasol trade or any other signings/transactions that always seem to favor L.A. It's just the way it is.

Most of you reading probably already know my feelings on the subject and know my fruitless attempts to introduce people to the greatness of the NHL. So I'm taking myself out of this discussion all together and will simply go by straight television ratings. (Which means very little if you know how they measure T.V. ratings).

What we know:
Of the
four traditional pro sports played in America (football, basketball, baseball, hockey), we know that football is going to dominate the others. The NFL is a machine that simply chews up any program that dares to oppose it. NFL regular season games can often draw more viewers than the playoff games in other sports. And when you get to the Super Bowl, ratings go into another stratosphere, usually tripling or quadrupling the championship ratings from any of the other major sports.

We also know that hockey will barely show up on the radar. This year Game 7 of the Stanley Cup
finals actually helped NBC win the time slot on Friday night....with a 3 share. That's still only half of the viewers that baseball or basketball brings in during the playoffs.

Now for the middle ground:

The MLB and NBA are constantly hovering in the middle ground as the two sports try to gain popularity during the television era.

Baseball, of course, was once the most popular sport in America and television ra
tings for the World Series used to be solid and consistent throughout the 1970's and 80's.

Then the strike happened.

Since 1994, television ratings have been dropping steadily for the MLB. This decade, the World Series
has averaged about 10 million fewer viewers than it used to.

Meanwhile, as the MLB was tearing itself apart in the 1990's, the NBA was riding a wave of Michael Jordan popularity. The NBA ratings hit the apex in 1998 (Jordan's last game with the Bulls), when 29 million viewers tuned in to see the NBA Finals.

e then, the NBA Finals have averaged about half of what it did during the Jordan era. When the Spurs play, the ratings dip even further. The low point came when only nine million people tuned in to watch the Spurs sweep the Cavs a few years ago.

Even college basketball has been outdrawing the NBA this decade.

Is this just a lull until LeBron properly takes over, or are people really tired of watching the same teams win the NBA title and having the same superstars shoved down our throats by the NBA marketing department?

The future isn't set for the NBA, but it isn't secure either.

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