The NBA is a business.
So after getting derailed by a global pandemic and pouring over $150 million into an NBA bubble to resume the season—all while hemorrhaging money from lost ticket sales, concessions and other lucrative sources of income—the absolute last thing NBA commissioner Adam Silver expected was shitty TV ratings.
And calling the league’s ratings shitty doesn’t even begin to describe how horrific they actually are. Because as Yahoo Sports notes, the NBA is facing its worse NBA Finals ratings in almost 40 years:
Game 3’s 5.9 million viewers were the fewest for an NBA Finals game ever (at least since 1984 when they started tracking Finals numbers). The second-lowest was Game 2 of these 2020 NBA Finals.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call “an unsustainable business model.”
In the aftermath of the officer-related death of George Floyd, the NBA has used its platform to address racial inequality and police accountability. Players and coaches have spoken out against police brutality in the press and you literally can’t even watch a basketball game without seeing “Black Lives Matter” etched on the court.
So with the league’s ratings in the toilet, Trump’s acolytes have taken to Twitter to denounce the NBA for “diluting” the game they love with politics and attribute its poor ratings to its “intrusive” social justice campaigns.
“Get woke-go broke!” former Arkansas governor and current dickhead Mike Huckabee tweeted. “Game 3 of NBA finals plunged to 4.08 million from record-low 4.5 million who watched Game 2, which shattered record low of 7.41 million who watched Game 1. At this rate, if there’s Game 7, it will be beaten in the ratings by reruns of ‘Green Acres’ on ME-TV.”
While the NBA’s ratings are shit, Huckabee and other stupid motherfuckers that lick wall outlets for breakfast are conveniently omitting the fact that damn near every sport is suffering a similar fate during this pandemic.
From USA Today:
Ratings for the Stanley Cup Finals were down 61% from last year, averaging 2.1 million viewers.
The final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament had 3.2 million viewers, by far the fewest going back more than 30 years.
The U.S. Open tennis tournament viewership fell sharply on ESPN, down 45% from the year before. The French Open is down 57% so far on NBC.
The Kentucky Derby, which normally gets around 15 million viewers, only had 9.3 million at its rescheduled slot in September.
Even the NFL, which has had some bright spots in the ratings thus far and seems to be holding steady, has had trouble getting viewers in certain windows like Thursday night, which has recorded consecutive lows for prime-time games.
But tell me more about how speaking out against racial injustice is the reason the NBA is pulling in such bad ratings. Because guess what? That actually has very little to do with it, you dumb-asses.
For one, with the coronavirus throwing regular sports schedules out the window, all of our favorite sports are now competing against each other. How many times have you had to choose between Thursday Night Football or the NBA playoffs? Or a baseball game and the WNBA or NHL? All of this shit is on at the exact same time and it’s forcing us to reluctantly play a game of One Gotta Go like an Instagram meme.
There’s also the fact that fans aren’t in attendance at nearly any of these sporting events, which naturally impacts our interest level. If we aren’t buying jerseys at arenas, can’t tailgate and can’t link up with our friends to catch games at the bar, we probably ain’t watching either. Plus a lot of these games have been broadcast at bizarre times. As much as we love March Madness, I wanted no parts of watching my Orlando Magic play during lunchtime. No thanks!
But most importantly, there’s a whole ass presidential election coming up that’s kind of a big goddamn deal. And in case you haven’t noticed, not only is everyone watching that shit—between the debates, press conferences and the news—but they’re flooding your social media timelines with it too. Trump, Biden, and Kamala Harris have been trending topics for how many weeks now?
Simply put, sports just really isn’t a priority at the moment. Hell, most of us are too busy just trying to survive a pandemic that has crippled our global economy.
With that said, Adam Silver is still a bit surprised that the NBA’s ratings are this bad, and admitted that the games we see next season could look radically different than the ones we’ve seen in the NBA bubble.
“I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer,” Silver said on ESPN’s NBA Countdown earlier this week. “My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy—that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.”
Had George Floyd not lost his life at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, it’s highly likely that the league’s social justice campaigns never happen. And considering that next season will proceed under an entirely different set of circumstances, it’s unrealistic to expect the league to present itself in the same manner.
This is probably music to the ears of people like Ted Cruz, but it shouldn’t be. Because as Silver said, while the approach will be different next season, the NBA will remain committed to taking more action as opposed to focusing on generating awareness.
I mean, it is a business, right?