NBA ratings down: solutions.


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.

For ABC:

  • 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.

For TNT:

  • 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).
  • Anonymous

    Is the next season the last in this TV contract? Nevertheless, the ABC games, yea that is fine but the bigger point is your last one; they dont promote the games. So it doesn’t matter if you have 10 games or 30 in the reg. season. If no one knows they are on it doesn’t matter. I think TNT is locked into Thursday with this TV deal especially with their exclusivity thing they have going on Thurs nights, it may be too difficult to change anything for TNT but people are always going to watch their games because they deliver a better product. Although, they do need to focus on better games, I’m sure they get the pick of the litter.

  • Zeb

    Yeah, the WNBA has really gone downhill. I remember hearing all about it in the late 90s, 2000…. Now, I’m really surprised to see anything about it except for boxscores on NBATV Daily.

  • silvernblack

    Want to improve the NBA product, ABC and ESPN? Start by jettisoning people who have obvious loathing/hatred for teams, look angry all the time, make irgnorant statments and just seem to enjoy screaming at me.

    Oh, wait, I meant Steven A. Smith.

  • hookem2003

    Bring back John Tesh’s Roundball Rock theme music back in.

    That will bring in some viewers.

    Plus, more human interest stories of which NBC used to cover a lot.