The NBA has been on a steady downward spiral since 1999 — partly because of the NBA lockout, and partly because of Michael Jordan’s retirement. This downward spiral is not unique to the NBA; just ask Bud Selig or Gary Bettman.
However, the ratings for the 2006-07 season are too poor to be ignored. A 2.0 average rating on broadcast television is beyond pathetic. As a comparison, the WNBA averaged a 1.9 average rating on NBC in 1997 — meaning that the NBA today is where the WNBA was ten years ago.
Despite the low numbers, there are ways for the NBA to regain its status — or at the very least, increase ratings for next year. All of it is strategic, and to a large extent a large part of it is artificially increasing the numbers. Still, an increase is an increase.
- Dump all March telecasts. NBA fans could care less about ABC, so taking a month off would not cause an uproar.
- Air a Christmas Day tripleheader. Christmas Day games are virtually guaranteed to draw at least a 3.0 rating, and with the NFL taking the holiday off, the probability of higher numbers is strong. Considering that the 3.5 for Lakers/Heat was the only 3.0 rating the NBA had on ABC this season, adding two more could only help the numbers.
- Dump all 1:00 PM starts. Only two 1:00 PM starts drew a rating of 2.0 or higher for ABC this season — on January 21 and 28, when Mavs/Heat and Suns/Cavs drew a 2.0 and 2.1, respectively.
- Suggested 2007-08 schedule: December 25, 2007 — games at 3:30 PM, 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM. January 27, 2008, February 3, 2008, February 10, 2008, February 24, 2008, March 2, 2008, April 6, 2008 and April 13, 2008 — games at 3:30 PM each week. That adds up to 10 telecasts, nine fewer than the amount for this season. But look on the bright side; nine fewer opportunities to hear the Pussycat Dolls.
- With ten telecasts and a maximum of five appearances per team, ABC can have the Los Angeles Lakers play in half the games the network televises. Considering that Laker games on ABC drew a 2.7 rating this year, that can only be a good thing.
- Tuesday night doubleheaders in November and December to avoid the NFL. The same in March, but to avoid the NCAA Tournament.
- Better game selection. The Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Seattle Supersonics should be banned from the air.
- Sunday night telecasts after the NFL season ends. ESPN had decent numbers for Sunday night telecasts this past season; TNT should do even better (considering that the network would actually promote the games).