NBA Finals: Boston Continues to Not Care About the NBA


Despite the Celtics’ past and recent successes, the city of Boston continues to tune out the NBA’s biggest event.

Boston was the lowest rated of the 27 NBA television markets for Tuesday’s Heat/Mavericks Game 4, with a mere 4.5 rating. The second-lowest rated market was Milwaukee, with a comparably massive 6.7.

Even Seattle, which bitterly lost an NBA team in 2008, drew a substantially higher rating for the game (7.6).

The first three games of the series did not perform much better. Boston was the second-lowest rated NBA market for Game 1 (5.4), Game 2 (5.6) and Game 3 (6.2). Only Minneapolis-St. Paul, home to the woeful Timberwolves, drew lower ratings for the first three games.

The tiny ratings in Boston cannot merely be attributed to the presence of the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Boston has been a mediocre-at-best NBA market for most of the past decade.

During the 2000s, Boston and nearby Providence were routinely among the lowest rated metered markets for the NBA Finals. Boston finished dead last among metered markets in 2004 (4.3) and 2006 (3.3), and second-to-last in 2001 (6.8) and 2005 (4.0). Only Providence rated lower in ’01 and ’05.

While Boston could barely be bothered to tune into the NBA Finals, ratings for the series have more than doubled in Oklahoma City.

Through four games, the NBA Finals has averaged a 13.3 rating in Oklahoma City, up 102% from last year, and well above the national average. Tuesday’s Game 4 drew a 14.4 rating in the market.

Oklahoma City is just one of several markets in which each game of the NBA Finals has done better than the national average. Other such markets include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Cleveland, Orlando, Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Memphis and New Orleans, along with a few non-NBA markets such as Birmingham, Las Vegas, and Norfolk, VA.

Among the non-NBA markets to draw higher ratings than Boston for each game of the NBA Finals: Seattle, Kansas City, San Diego, Nashville, Cincinnati, Columbus (OH), Dayton, Jacksonville and Louisville.

(This year’s numbers from Son of the Bronx, The Oklahoman)

  • JakeFrankie

    Boston is focused first on Red Sox baseball and then Bruins being in the Stanley Cups. Boston’s NBA Finals numbers were great in 2008 and 2010 when they were in the FINALS that’s all that matters, Celtics are loved in Boston don’t be fooled by these numbers. Not every city will do great numbers, None of these numbers 100% confirmed.

    Keep up the good work Paulsen.

  • Nbahoops2011

    Feel sorry for Boston..they’re missing out one hell of a series.

    Then again, it’s not that surprising since I have noticed they don’t really know much about basketball when you talk to them about it….I guess they’re more into their local teams than a sport in general…so they’re more likely to support all of their local teams as opposed to turning their full attention to one of the major-league sports.

    Oklahoma City, on the other hand, wow, just wow.


  • Bessilver

    I guess its a matter of perspective.  I am a Boston outsider.  When I think about Boston, it is synonymous Boston Celtics Organization, not the Red Sox, not the Bruins, or the Patriots.   

  • jlasoon

    I’d be curious to see the numbers for Wed night baseball (Yanks/Sox).

  • Jeffrey

    Boston, as great a sports city as it is, is extraordinarily provincial. Also heavily slanted toward pro sports. I would love to see what the BCS bowls do for a number in Boston.

  • JG

    No, JakeFrankie, that is not all that matters. This article makes no claim that the Celtics are not loved in Boston. Of course they are. The claim is that Boston in not a great basketball city. It does not love the game. This is a very good finals so far and of all the NBA cities Boston is least interested. This matters because Boston (depsite the Russell/Bird eras) is mathematically only going to be in the finals once every 15 years. Hence, Boston is a net negative for NBA ratings most years. That Matters.

    • JakeFrankie

      I never said this article says Celtics aren’t loved in Boston. So the NBA is in trouble in Boston? Even when Boston was the WORST team in the NBA they got over 16,000 people in the 18,000 seat arena. Regardless of the ratings Boston Celtics are the most historic team in NBA History, Celtics fans are some of the loudest fans in the league. 
      JG What’s the NBA suppose to do that there “net” negative in Boston? lol 

      Just like Paulsen said several times Boston isn’t been a “big” NBA market when the Celtics aren’t in the FINALS. 

  • Elvis

    These are interesting numbers.  I really don’t have any explanations for it being from Boston and a HUGE NBA fan.  Like the Jake says, the Celtics are loved in Boston.  As for the NBA itself, i can’t really speak for others.  I would be interested, however, in seeing what ratings in Boston have been like for other league finals when a Boston team wasn’t involved.  The Celtics had record ratings this year and outdrew the B’s.  But like I said, interesting findings.

  • Nbahoops2011

    Personally I’m of the belief that, if you’re not a fan of the sport first and foremost (in this case basketball), it’s hard to get into your local team, whether they’re doing great or not..I believe that, in order to really love your team, you must have an appreciation for the sport they play first and foremost, otherwise you don’t really enjoy both the team and the game itself.

    but, evidently, I’m in the minority in this regard.

    • JakeFrankie

      Last I checked Boston Celtics play in the NBA, Last I checked they play with the NBA logo on the Celtics jersey. I don’t know what Paulsen got this Title from but just because Boston local ratings aren’t great for non-Celtic games who cares? Celtics always outdraw Bruins in local tv ratings anyways. Is there 100% confirmation this numbers are right? NO

      What’s the NBA suppose to do that people aren’t tuning in Boston? lol 

      Most people I know from Boston love there local sports teams like no other city that I have seen ( not counting New York or Chicago). Red Sox local tv ratings in Boston are epic.

  • Elvis

    I wouldn’t say that Boston fans aren’t a fan of the sport, but they’re not necessarily fans of the league. I think the phenomenon is across all teams and leagues in boston.

  • P

    I have to agree with what some other people have stated. Boston sports fans will support the local teams. But when there isn’t a local team in the NBA finals, NHL finals, BCS bowl game, Final 4, or WS, the ratings will be low. The 1 possible exception would be the Yankees. Since people might watch rooting for them to lose. I also didn’t include the NFL. Since the NFL generally has massive ratings everywhere.

  • Guest

    The Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Finals, which is deffinetly a factor. 1/2 the homes in the Boston market watched Game 6