Ratings surrounding NBA-related programming tanking

A view of the NBA court at Visa Athletic Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s return has done nothing to boost the ratings for the once-popular shows that discuss the league, according to a report from Bobby Burack of OutKick.

“Sports are back, and the ratings remain alarmingly low,” Burack wrote.

Burack used ESPN programs such as PTI, First Take, Around the Horn and The Jump as examples of a major ratings decline for shows that primarily discuss the NBA. (The Jump is devoted exclusively to the NBA.)

“It’s early, but this start is concerning,” Burack wrote. “Remember, the NBA is the most discussed league on many of these shows. Particularly First Take, which, Thursday, spent its entire two hours on the league’s return. The NBA put its stars out front for next-day conversation. LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard, Lakers vs. Clippers, Zion Williamson. None of it mattered.”

Twenty-two teams are resuming the season in Orlando, with many of the games being carried by national network partners ESPN/ABC and TNT.

While shows that talk about the NBA may be hurting, the games themselves are generating a decent audience, all things considered.

Through Aug. 9, seeding games on ESPN were averaging 1.39 million viewers, which was 34 percent larger than the numbers being produced by Major League Baseball games on ESPN (1.03 million).

Also, the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets on Aug. 6 averaged 1.6 million viewers on TNT — larger than the MLB games on FOX and the PGA Championship on ESPN.

Television ratings for NBA games actually were suffering prior to the hiatus in March, according to a February report from Sports Business Daily.

But it appears the return of the league is drawing a fair share of interest despite the time of year, as TV viewership is typically down across the board in August. Also, because of circumstances, the NBA has had to schedule many of its seeding games in the early afternoon.

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About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and NBA.com.

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