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)
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.
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).