SBJ/April 28-May 4/Media

NBA national viewership drops for second straight season

On-court struggles by some of the NBA’s marquee franchises led to viewership declines for the league’s TV partners during the 2013-14 regular season.

It marks the second consecutive season of declines for the networks. (see chart below)

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Media writer John Ourand and NBA reporter John Lombardo discuss what the league's TV partners want and the difficulty of incorporating a more flexible NBA schedule.

ABC averaged 3.64 million viewers (2.3 rating) for its 15 games this season, marking the network’s lowest figure since 2007-08. ABC’s peak season since acquiring NBA rights remains the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, with 5.42 million viewers.

ESPN averaged 1.68 million viewers this season (1.1 rating), down about 5 percent from 2012-13 and the network’s lowest mark since 2009-10. The decline for ESPN comes despite this season having had its most-viewed slate of Christmas Day games on record.

TNT averaged 1.9 million viewers this season, its lowest mark since 2009-10. Its average viewership also was down 5 percent compared with 2012-13.

On top of the struggles of the league’s marquee franchises — New York, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers all missed the playoffs this year for the first time in league history — TNT’s telecasts this season had double the number of games decided by 20 points or more compared with 2012-13 (12 games).

Despite the viewership drop-off, this season still ranks for TNT as having had the fourth-largest audience in its 30-year history with the league.

NBA TV finished with an average of 316,000 viewers for its 98 games this season, down 6 percent from last year. However, the league-owned network did see its best audience on record with the Dec. 10 Indiana-Miami game this season (920,000 viewers).


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