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Volume 26 No. 206
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NBA Playoffs Continue To See Sharp Viewership Drop For First Round

The NBA is continuing to see a sharp drop for its playoff viewership through the second weekend of games. The audience for telecasts across TNT, ABC, ESPN and NBA TV -- 2.66 million viewers -- is the lowest figure since at least ’11, when NBA TV numbers were first publicly available. Games are down 18% compared to the same point last season, and down 19% from two years ago. The absence of LeBron James in the postseason for the first time since ’05 also continues to impact numbers, as did head-to-head competition with The Masters on the opening weekend.

THROWING SHADE: TNT's Charles Barkley last night prior to Bucks-Pistons and Rockets-Jazz continued his criticism of the quality of the first-round NBA Playoff games, saying facetiously, "America, these are going to be two barnburners tonight. This Bucks-Pistons game, y'all got to watch this game." After a promo was aired for the two games, Barkley then said seriously, "You should just skip these two games and go to 'Inside the NBA'" (TNT, 4/22).

POINT OF CONTENTION: ESPN's Ryen Russillo shared his thoughts on the NBA possibly returning to a best-of-five series for the first round of the NBA Playoffs, saying, "When it's a one-year sample of ratings going down, that is not the time to try and tweak everything." The Ringer's Bill Simmons said it is "still unclear" why the NBA in '03 made the first round a best-of-seven series "other than being f---ing greedy." Simmons: "It was just pure, unadulterated greed." He added, "The whole thing about, 'They need those extra games,' we never end up playing the extra games." Simmons: "You know what would be cool? A really exciting series" ("The Bill Simmons Podcast," TheRinger.com, 4/22).