Last Tuesday (Nov. 25), I ran a piece about the NBA’s television ratings, wherein I questioned the merits of the previously linked Nielsen story which raved about improved NBA ratings.
My quibble was in regard to the way in which the data was presented. Rather than list all the teams’ ratings, it only listed the top ten, a completely flawed methodology. As I argued last week, how can you say the league’s ratings are improved when you only tell us half of the story?
Well, consider this the other half of the story.
Thanks to an anonymous commenter with access to local Nielsen ratings, here is the whole enchilada. Listed are the teams, and the percentage change in their ratings relative to last season. Note that these ratings are only for local broadcasts, and do not include ESPN, TNT, ABC, or whomever.
Missing: OKC, Charlotte, Sacramento, Toronto, Jazz
Let’s assume Oklahoma City’s ratings are better than the Sonics’ (for the sake of Clay Bennett’s mental health, they better be). And, let’s assume the Raptors and Jazz are also doing decently. I think we can also assume that the Hornets and Kings are seeing lower numbers than before, simply because that’s what their attendance figures would indicate.
Regardless of the missing numbers, that’s a pretty whopping indictment of how popular the league is. The argument that attendance is down but ratings are up? Hogwash.
There are four teams with an increase of 20 points or more, but there are nine with decreases of 20 points or more (if you include the missing five teams, the numbers might change to five increases and ten or eleven decreases). The Boston Celtics – World Champs, etc, etc, - have seen an 18% decline in their ratings. The Mavericks are looking at a drop of nearly half from last season.
Now, there are rebuttals to this argument. For one thing, the season is still early and the NBA will obviously do better after the NFL and college football are in the rear-view mirror. Plus, the really meaningful games (and concurrent improved ratings) don’t occur until the spring.
Still, I think it’s safe to say that anyone who argues that the NBA is sailing along just fine, thank you, is burying his head in the sand.
Let’s face it, folks, if your best argument is that you’re more popular than the NHL, well, that’s not much of an argument.