Big markets take big hits in local viewership
Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
The NBA’s three biggest media markets posted significant drops in local TV viewership this season, with the five clubs in those markets shedding a combined 259,000 homes per game from last year.
Knicks ratings on MSG were down 29 percent, averaging a 2.18 rating.
Overall, the league’s local ratings and viewership both dropped about 5 percent compared with last season. Typically, the NBA’s overall local ratings and viewership figures do not fluctuate much from season to season.
The Lakers suffered one of the biggest slides.
The Clippers, meanwhile, despite winning the Pacific Division, failed to pick up the slack: Their average rating on Prime Ticket for the season also was down, off 19 percent from last year to 1.27 average.
NBA teams’ RSN ratings
|TEAM||RSN||AVG. RATING (CHANGE*)|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||FS Oklahoma||8.81 (+2%)|
|San Antonio Spurs||FS Southwest||7.49 (+15%)|
|Miami Heat||Sun Sports||6.85 (-3%)|
|Indiana Pacers||FS Midwest||4.19 (+99%)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||CSN Northwest||4.06 (+46%)|
|TEAM||RSN||CHANGE* (AVG. RATING)|
|Indiana Pacers||FS Midwest||+99% (4.19)|
|Phoenix Suns||FS Arizona||+80% (2.18)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||FS New Orleans||+62% (1.78)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||CSN Northwest||+46% (4.06)|
|Washington Wizards||CSN Mid-Atlantic||+33% (1.04)|
|Charlotte Bobcats||SportSouth||+33% (0.72)|
AVG. AUDIENCE SIZE
|TEAM||RSN||AVG. NO. OF HHs (CHANGE*)|
|New York Knicks||MSG||163,000 (-29%)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||SportsNet LA||122,000 (-54%)|
|Miami Heat||Sun Sports||114,000 (-3%)|
|Chicago Bulls||CSN Chicago||105,000 (-8%)|
|Golden State Warriors||CSN Bay Area||81,000 (+15%)|
* Compared to 2012-13 season
Note: Comparable data for Memphis (SportSouth), Utah (Root Sports) and Toronto (Sportsnet) was not available.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen data
The story was similarly bad in New York, as Knicks ratings on MSG were down 29 percent even though the team was in playoff contention until the season’s final week. Knicks games averaged a 2.18 rating. Nets ratings on YES Network dropped 20 percent, to a 0.77 rating.
As for Chicago, the Bulls saw an 8 percent decline this year, to an average rating of 2.97. Like the Lakers, the Bulls played much of this season without one of the NBA’s biggest stars, as Derrick Rose injured his knee in late November.
This season’s biggest drop among teams’ RSN marks occurred in Milwaukee, where the Bucks not only posted the league’s worst record on the court but also scored the NBA’s lowest local rating and lowest viewership. Bucks ratings on FS Wisconsin dropped a whopping 65 percent from last year, with the team averaging a 0.50 rating and just 5,000 homes per telecast. It marks the first time in five years that a team other than the Charlotte Bobcats posted the league’s lowest local viewership.
The highest local ratings came in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder led the way for the second year in a row. OKC’s games on FS Oklahoma averaged an 8.81 rating, up 2 percent from last season.
Other good local stories came in Indiana and Phoenix. The Pacers, who this year posted the Eastern Conference’s top record on the court, also sported the league’s biggest year-to-year ratings increase. Pacers games on FS Midwest averaged a 4.19 rating, up 99 percent from last year.
In Arizona, the resurgent Suns saw an 80 percent ratings increase to a 2.18 average on FS Arizona. Those marks came for a club that surprised many on the court this year, as Phoenix remained in contention for the postseason until last week.