Wednesday, November 19

NBA and NHL

There are a hundred ways to talk about NBA attendance, a hundred ways to distort the truth, a hundred ways to rationalize, pervert, and obfuscate the facts.

In the weeks and months to come, the NBA will attempt to use all of those methods. They will load us down with facts and figures that explain how wonderful the league is, how healthy its balance sheets are, and how strong its ratings are.

Just remember, when you hear those words, what the chart below is showing you:





That, my friends, is the cold, hard hand of reality smacking David Stern in the face. In the past six years, his league has gone from dominator to also-ran.


Nice work, fellas.

[NOTE: To accommodate the NHL's work stoppage which eliminated an entire season, I shifted the NHL numbers from the previous season up into the empty gap.

NOTE2: Graph has been updated.]

46 comments:

chunkstyle23 said...

I was practically giddy reading that Yahoo story (I know, you linked it in the previous post not this one), thinking, hell, maybe some of these less solvent owners end up selling their teams in a fire sale and some local hero like Ballmer gets a bargain.

Even better would be some contraction away from the smaller "Arena League" markets, some franchise shuffling (ahem), a decrease in player salaries, perhaps shorter seasons, less demand for the NBA product in general... anything that hammers away at the value of the league so Emperor Stern steps down. And if that means ticket prices come down too, so much the better.

Browny said...

This blog is just plain sad. Sour grapes, anyone?

Basketball.org said...

Great read and find. I have been writing about in the past few weeks that the NBA is in serious trouble. With this economy and these figures shown here, they need to make some serious adjustments.

Anthony said...

Would it be possible for you to update your graph with labels on the axes, what do the numbers on the x-axis represent? 1 = the 2003 season? Is the Y axis attendance per game? I am assuming that's what you're trying to portray but its not totally clear. Thanks

Anonymous said...

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/media_entertainment/sports-wrap-nba-teams-putting-up-big-local-numbers/


If the league was really in trouble, someone should explain me why several teams are putting up strong local tv ratings. Not to mention last week I read on sportsbusiness daily that also national tv ratings are up compared to last season (which were already up compared to the year before)..and someone should explain me how come the league is in trouble when the NBA 2007-08 regular season got bigger ratings than baseball regular season last season (and the NBA Finals beat the 2008 World Series as well for the 1st time since 1998).

And no I don't work for the NBA. I'm just a huge NBA fan who found the link to this post on True Hoop.

sour grapes?

-Andy

Anonymous said...

btw, I think the biggest problem, as far as attendance is concerned, is the economy (and the high ticket prices). I know people who would love to attend games but they stay home because of this so they watch games on tv.

Just decrease ticket prices and things should get better.

-Andy

Anonymous said...

LOL..Even if the NBA is going broke ( which its not....), your no longer a part of it therefore its no longer your business. Stay out of the NBA's shit and go find something else to do with your time you sad (basketball team-less) residents of Seattle..

SOUR GRAPES?

-B'rickshaw

Anonymous said...

I notice a lack of a source...

nuss said...

Information was taken from espn.com's attendance pages for both the NHL and NBA. I assume they are reliable. If you know of a better source, feel free to provide the link.

Anonymous said...

Where are the sources? That chart looks like something my kid sister could do on her computer. One thing to keep in mind is the NBA is stretching itself very thin right now. It is becoming a global sport - its argulably already 2nd most popular in the world). Just wait until the rest of Asia and Europe, even S. America catches on. Then their profits will dwarf any sport besides Soccer.

Anonymous said...

so I was reading the attendance page on ESPN. All the teams having attendance problems are bad teams so it's not really surprising. The only exception are the Sixers (even tho it's not like they are playing that great). Most of the other teams still sellout their games or get huge crowds. And if the NHL is getting bigger attendance the NBA (it was the same thing last year, but then the NBA attendance picked up around January and the NBA ended up with the 3rd largest attendance in history)so be it. NBA ratings still dwarf the NHL, both nationally and locally. Same with merchandise sales and global popularity. Plus, hockey has the advantage of having several teams who play in hockey-mad Canada.

-Andy

ryan said...

"will dwarf any sport besides Soccer."

According to Forbes magazine, the most valuable NBA team, the Knicks, is worth $600 million. Care to guess where that would rank in the NFL?

33rd. As in, $200 million less than the least-valuable team, the Minnesota Vikings. Or, looked at another way, the most valuable NBA team is worth about 1/3 of the most valuable NFL team (the Cowboys, at $1.6 billion).

Oh, yeah, the NFL has lots to worry about from the NBA.

El said...

no source, did you just draw this up on your computer before writing the article?? and how can it project 2009 when its not even 2009 yet?? why dont you learn how to use excel first

what can i say??...sour grapes!! haha

-

Anonymous said...

dear ryan, the NBA, worldwide, is a "little bit" more popular than the NFL..wait, waaaaay more popular. Basketball is a global game, the NFL not so much. That's why anon. 3:59 pm said bball will dwarf any sport besides soccer. He was not talking about the U.S., where the NFL will always be king (even tho I don't like it). He was talking about global popularity.

-Andy

nuss said...

It says 2009 because this is the 2008-09 season for both the NBA and NHL.

Again, the source for this is espn.com listings for attendance. If you have a better source, please feel free to let me know.

MarkS said...

Here's some more stats for the Okies trolling here. According a recent Harris poll the NBA is less popular than the NFL, Major League Baseball, College Football and Auto Racing.

The NHL has a one point lead over the NBA which could count as a statistical tie. The NBA is tied with College Basketball and Men's Golf for sixth place overall.

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=866

Anonymous said...

Marks, if the NHL was more popular than the NBA, then how come the NBA dwarfs the NHL when it comes to tv ratings, both locally and nationally? Compare the NBA/NHL ratings on ABC and NBC. Or compare the locak tv ratings in NBA/NHL markets. I doubt you even read the harris interactive poll. They asked people what was their favorite sport. But it doesn't mean that people who voted, say, baseball, didn't consider, say, basketball their 2nd favorite sport.

This is not an NBA blog.....this is an NHL blog IMO.

-Andy

Rhymenocerous said...

The NBA fuxked us over. We're supposed to be happy and supportive about that? Really? Dont think that our cries are going to go silent over the raw deal given to this fanbase. We will not let those that take from us enjoy their fradulent prize. Sour grapes? You're goddamn right they're sour, and until the wrong is righted we will make sure no one forgets the taste.

Anonymous said...

OKC fans boo Bennett /Presti / PJ's Thunder.

Sour grapes?

Morris Blue said...

this blog needs better labels on both the x and y axis in order for people to understand it. also, 2009 hasn't happened yet. is that a projection? or is that the 20008-09 season? is the number on the left an average? or a total? more explanation would be much better.

soulhijacker said...

just give it up, already...obviously you still care about the nba cos you still have a blog for a team that doesn't exist.

ok ok i know it must be tough. but i live in australia. there is no nba team here, yet i still get a lot of enjoyment from it. i'm sure you can learn to do so too...

Anonymous said...

Wow. Commenters are idiots. You present people with a fact and they either accuse you of bitterness or make ridiculous assumptions which they then refute. Seattle losing its team did not create the facts that are contained in the graph. Sour grapes are irrelevant. The graph makes no claims about the overall popularity of either sport. Television rating are irrelevant. Fact: This year on average more people go to NHL games than NBA games. Deal with it.

Chris said...

Listen 'soulhijacker', as intelligent as you think you are, neither yourself nor the illustrator of the graph considered size of arenas in relation to attendance. If you merely factor in average attendance, then in the NBA teams like Charlotte that have much smaller stadiums will bring down the average considerably. If you actually look at the ESPN page, there are some teams which have lower overall attendance but are sold out, such as Boston which is in 10th and has sold out every game (look at PCT column). Most NBA teams are in the high eighties to nineties in terms of percent of seats filled. This graph doesn't mean a thing to me anyways because the NHL is incredibly boring and you couldn't pay me to watch it, whereas I'd give up my left nut to go to an NBA game.

Chris said...

Sorry 'soulhijacker', that comment was directed at Anonymous. My mistake.

Steve said...

Chris, from looking at the ESPN stats, it's possible to figure some averages. The average arena size in the NBA is 19,517 seats. The average in the NHL is 18,230. The NBA is filling its stadiums 87.34% full. The NHL is 93.58% full. Whether you measure by absolute number or by percentage, the NHL is filling its arenas more completely than the NBA. Now, that's probably in part due to the NHL's horrible TV availability, but it is not disputable that there are more butts in seats at hockey games.

nuss said...

Thank you, Steve, for pointing out something I had been meaning to. The best example is Denver, where the Avs routinely sell out, yet will never be able to get the numbers the Nuggets could (if they sold out, that is), simply because the Pepsi Center fits an extra 1,000 people for basketball than for hockey. Which explains why looking at percentage or raw numbers is insufficient - you have to look at both.

As Steve points out, the NHL is winning both of those battles right now.

Anonymous said...

Im glad. The NHL doenst have many TV contracts which support lower ratings. Games here in NC are either on VS or FS-Carolina's. Ive never seen a Charlotte basketball game on there and would never watch a basketball game. Im glad to see Hockey climbing the ladder. I know NFL will always be on top (thank god for contact sports) and i would love to see NHL pass baseball. I mean Baseball is kinda pointless. Hit a ball, run, stand around for a few minuets.

Anthony said...

in regards to the harris poll regarding favorite sport, its only asking you for your favorite sport, My favorite is the NBA, you can have more than one sport you like and follow but you can't tell which i like better NFL, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, NHRA, or LPGA they are all the same in that poll. The NBA obviously is losing some of its attendance its far from a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Here in Minnesota, our NBA team has been largely ignored - that was true during the last few years that KG was here. The TPuppies regularily announce 12,000 for attendance (no more than 8,000 in the stands), while the Wild announced 18,568 (approximately 18,000 in the stands). The Timberwolves are in some serious trouble here.

Anonymous said...

In Chicago the Blackhawks are back and becoming more popular than the Bulls... I see blackhawks merchandise everywhere.

- Terry

Nate Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate Jones said...

I am not going to get all hostile the way some have.
But it's rather obvious that the NBA is more popular than the NHL.

But just focusing on the graph itself, I think looking attendance alone is not a great indicator of which league is more successful/popular. How much has the average NHL ticket been over this time or year by year during this time period vs. the prices of the NBA tickets during this time period? I have a feeling the NBA's tickets where much more expensive. Someone also mentioned the television access problem. I'm not familiar with that, but if someone can't watch their local team on TV, then of course they are going to be willing to shell out more money to see the game live. Especially if the tickets are very affordable.

But beyond that the NBA garners more revenues and has much more valuable teams than the NHL. Check forbes for the info. And as mentioned before, there is a huge difference between the two in TV ratings.

archstanton said...

As a big time NBA fan, I think this is great. NBA ticket prices have gotten outragously expensive, and I think with the economic downturn, attendance is going to get much worse before it gets any better. I know that after the strike, the NHL slashed ticket prices, and I think you can see on the graph that it helped a lot. Hopefully the NBA will do the same.

Also, as far as the NFL goes, I think you are going to see the same thing happen to them. They have turned their stadiums into playgrounds for people with large amounts of disposable income. I think you are going to see a dip in attendence and a lot more blackouts starting next season as the number of people with large amounts of disposable income falls.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to look at numbers and say a league's popularity is rising or falling, but it misses the bigger point.

These things ebb and flow, and differ from region to region and city to city and on team progress. The NHL is very popular in its Canadian markets, obviously, but also in certain areas of the country where hockey is a big youth sport or where the people have really taken to their team. In Philadelphia, the Flyers are usually more popular than the Sixers, no matter what the Sixers do. Even the AHL team in Philly has outdrawn the Sixers on occasion. Detroit is similar, and the NBA can't even touch the NHL's popularity in Denver or Minnesota or in non-NBA markets like Buffalo or Tampa. Markets like Boston and Long Island are huge hockey markets, but fans there are really angry with the state or their teams (i.e. bad/cheap ownership or crumbling building) and so don't go to games. In New York, the Rangers have traditionally sold out every game, while the Knicks currently have trouble, but it has more to do with the Rangers history and the current state of the Knicks.

Still, the NBA is bigger most other places, especially in large markets without either leagues. Kansas City has its hockey fans, but I bet more people there watch the NBA than the NHL.

The NBA is not losing popularity, but maybe now people have realized they don't want to spend a small fortune going to watch a game that is basically a sideshow to loud music, celebrity owners and players, and circus tricks. The NHL has the advantage here; it's fan base tends to be more hardcore and people know what they get when they go to an NHL game-a hockey game. One needs to only look at the attendance for minor hockey in this country: it tends to be quite healthy. It's possible that people like to play basketball more or watch it on TV, but would rather go in person to a hockey game.

Anonymous said...

In Chicago the Blackhawks are back and becoming more popular than the Bulls... I see blackhawks merchandise everywhere.

- Terry




^really? Not sure if you noticed, but the Bulls sell out every single game since years. Even when they suck they play before sellout crowds....the Blackhawks, on the other hand, didn't get big crowds until this year, which is when the team started to get good. So, I'm just saying that the Blackhawks sellout only when they are competitive, while the Bulls sellout even when they suck. Meaning basketball is more popular than hockey in the Chicago area

Anonymous said...

"In Philadelphia, the Flyers are usually more popular than the Sixers, no matter what the Sixers do. Even the AHL team in Philly has outdrawn the Sixers on occasion. Detroit is similar, and the NBA can't even touch the NHL's popularity in Denver or Minnesota or in non-NBA markets like Buffalo or Tampa".

anon. 3:04 pm, while your post is respectful, I have to disagree on one thing. Please don't compare Philly to Detroit when it comes to their NBA/NHL teams. The Pistons lead the NBA in attendance since 2003 and have an open sellout streak that dates back to 2004 and tv ratings for Pistons games are some of the heighest in the entire league (not sure if they are higher than the Wings, though) so it's not fair comparing Detroit to Philly. Detroit, unlike Philly supports their NBA team and you never hear about minor leagues teams outdrawing them.

Also, you said the NBA can't even touch the NHL's popularity in Denver. I don't have the link, but I remember that last season the Nuggets outdrew the Avs when it came to local tv ratings, and this season the Nuggets get an average of 16,583 fans at their games (16,272 the Avs, despite a deep playoffs run last season).

Anonymous said...

../ignore all posts
ridiculous comments from people whom know nothing except leave their bias based opinions; if you've got nothing constructive to say then just read the blog and get on with your day

Anonymous said...

and not to mention - arenas that have both NBA and NHL (MSG for example) hold more fans for NBA then NHL. The NY Rangers and the NY Knicks sell out every game, but the BBall setup allows about 1000 more fans... If the hockey setup allowed that they would still sellout. I'm sure there are many more arena's around the country that are the same way.

Anonymous said...

archstanton I am confident in saying there are more NHL fans in KC than NBA. There are by far more college basketball fans here, but Kansas Citians will never put up with the apathetic and thuggish attitude the NBA consistently brings. The NHL held an exhibition in the brand new Sprint Center between two of the worst teams in the league last year (LA STL). Not only were they terrible, the brought their B squads and put it on a monday night. The NBA game drew only about 200 more people on a friday night with two playoff teams (Portland and Atlanta) the game featured a 1st overall draft pick and had more than a month than the NHL game did to advertise. Still, no one cared about the NBA game mainly because the players haven't cared for over 10 years. The NBA is an absolute joke.

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