Tuesday, November 25

Tuned In, Or Not?

One of the commenters to our story about the NHL vs NBA attendance debate brought up a point in regard to television ratings - namely, that NBA ratings are increasing over last season.

Seemingly, this is a fly in the ointment for the argument that the NBA is struggling right now. Or is it?

As evidence, the commenter pointed to this article from Nielsen. On the surface, it seems to indicate some rosy figures for the league. To wit:

2008-09 Season vs. 2007-08 Season Ratings, % Change
New Orleans, 163%
Cleveland, 109%
Atlanta, 97%
Portland, 44%
Orlando, 26%
New York, 17%
L.A. Lakers, 14%
Washington, 12%
Philadelphia, 10%
Memphis, 10%

Anyone else notice something missing from that picture? That is to say, what about the other 23 teams? If the top 10 on your list includes Memphis and Philadelphia, and their improvement is just a marginal one, what about the bottom ten? How have their ratings gone this year?

I'm not saying those other 23 teams are worse, and I'm not saying they're necessarily better, I'm just saying, well, I'm saying I have no idea, and neither does anyone else without access to the information.

Pointing to that website and saying, "See, I told you the league is prosperous!" is somewhat like pointing to a list of the top teams with the 10 best won-loss records in the league and saying, "See, I told you all the teams are winning this year!"

We only know 1/3 of the story. I can't imagine I'm the only one out there curious to see the rest of the story. Any ad-men out there with access to that sort of info, feel free to educate us.


Anonymous said...

I am from Philly... no one cares for the Sixers!

Here it's
1) Eagles
2) Flyers/Phillies


Anonymous said...

If local ratings are up (for how long? after the switch to all digital TV?) and increasingly important for revenue in the long term... then local market size is more important than the NBA seems to have weighted in moving to OKC and some other markets and away from Seattle.

Anonymous said...

At least a Seattle with a good team.

Anonymous said...

The key is IF local ratings are up. Jury is still out on that.

Anonymous said...

few days ago Sports Business Daily reported that, overall, NBA ratings, both nationally and locally, are up compared to last season. So I think most cities are getting bigger ratings than last season, even tho I'm sure there are a few markets who are getting lower ratings (I read Charlotte is the worst).

plus, didn't the NBA got bigger ratings than baseball last season? Didn't the 2008 NBA Finals beat the 2008 World Series? So it doesn't seem to me things are bad. Actually, it's the other way around.

Anonymous said...

as far as Memphis getting bigger ratings than last season, you won't believe it but they're a pretty fun team to watch. They still suck but they're an entertaining team to watch. Not to mention OJ Mayo is a fna favorite. So it shouldn't be a surprise to see the Grizzlies getting bigger ratings.

Anonymous said...

"fna favorite"

^fan favorite* damn I can't type.

Anonymous said...

Not a really fair comparison - the NBA had two huge markets (LA and Boston) plus a historical matchup that people were ready to embrace. MLB had Tampa and Philly, and the series was over quickly. Plus, the NBA got 6 games, while MLB only got 5. The big ratings are always in the last couple of games, other than the opener, anyways.

Anonymous said...

Ask and you shall rec'v...these numbers are for Cable games on local sports nets...shows how many games have aired and the year to year ratings gain or loss (%)

No big suprises, basically if the team is doing better than last year the ratings are up - worse and they are down

Los Angeles Lakers 7 9%
Los Angeles Clippers 4 -60%
Dallas Mavericks 6 -54%
San Antonio Spurs 7 -26%
Houston Rockets 11 -8%
Atlanta Hawks 7 93%
Atlanta Hawks 5 80%
Indianapolis Pacers 13 -23%
Detroit Pistons 11 5%
Cleveland Cavaliers 11 105%
Milwaukee Bucks 14 -24%
Minneapolis T-Wolves 3 6%
Phoenix Suns 4 -38%
Miami Heat 12 -24%
Orlando Magic 10 -24%
New York Knicks 13 10%
Washington DC Wizards 12 11%
Philadelphia 76'ers 12 14%
Chicago Bulls 9 1%
Boston Celtics 13 -18%
San Francisco Warriors 8 -15%
Denver Nuggets 14 -22%
New York Nets 13 0%

PN said...

Fantastic - thanks so much for the info. Before I put it up on the site, though, I've got to have someone to attribute it to, or some source I can cite. Otherwise, all the fanatics will say I just made it up.

Can you give me some help in that area?

PN said...

Also, do you happen to have the numbers for Charlotte, Sacramento, and Utah?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately no I can't cause I don't want any trouble from my job - these are Nielsen ratings tracks though...if somebody wants to claim you made them up, then they should go through the trouble of getting the info from Nielsen themselves before they cast stones.

They are accurate figures but do not show or include the over the air broadcast delivery or TNT / ESPN deliveries either - just on regional sports networks such as FSN - Northwest when they used to carry the Sonics.

I know that I said if a team was doing well, ratings were up and vice versa but I would couch these figures and that comment with the caviat that ratings delivery varies based on start times (day games on a workday will not do as well as prime time game on that same day for example) and what programming is running against it when the game is airing. For example, if the Magic are down 24% in ratings that is not because the team is not performing well - but possibly some games were airing against high profile college football games (do well in the South) or NASCAR, or who knows...basically there are many factors that go into these ratings.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. See the updated story from today, with your stats included. If you feel up to giving us an update in the future, drop me a line at supersonicsoul at hotmail dot com.

Thanks again.