SBD/April 21, 2014/Media

Struggles For Marquee Teams Contribute To NBA Regular Season TV Audience Drop

On-court struggles by some of the NBA’s marquee franchises, including the Lakers, Knicks and Celtics, led to viewership drops for TV partners during the ’13-14 regular season. It was the second straight season of declines. ABC averaged 3.64 million viewers (2.3 rating) for 15 games, marking the net’s lowest figure since ’07-08. The net’s peak season since acquiring NBA rights remains the lockout-shortened ’11-12 season, with 5.42 million viewers. ESPN averaged 1.68 million viewers this season (1.1 rating), down around 5% from ’12-13 and the net’s lowest mark since ’09-10. The decline for ESPN comes despite the net having its most-viewed slate of Christmas Day games on record. TNT averaged 1.9 million viewers this season, marking the net’s lowest mark since ’09-10. Its average viewership was down 5% compared to ’12-13. On top of the struggles of marquee franchises, TNT's telecasts this season had double the number of games decided by 20 points or more compared to '12-13 (12 games). Despite the viewership dropoff, this season ranked as the fourth-best audience in TNT's 30-year history with the league. NBA TV finished with 316,000 viewers for its 98 games this season, down 6% from last season. However, the league-owned net saw its best audience on record with the Dec. 10 Heat-Pacers game (920,000 viewers).

VIEWERSHIP TREND FOR NBA REGULAR-SEASON GAMES
SEASON
ABC (000)
TNT (000)
ESPN (000)
NBA TV (000)
'13-14
3,637
1,900
1,678
316
'12-13
4,701
2,002
1,768
336
'11-12*
5,421
2,498
1,863
337
'10-11
5,110
2,397
1,988
253
'09-10
3,694
1,723
1,561
n/a
'08-09
3,684
1,711
1,680
n/a
'07-08
3,175
1,473
1,468
n/a

NOTE: * = Lockout-shortened season.

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Media, NBA, TBS/TNT, ESPN, ABC

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