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Sports Ratings Have Tanked Across the Board While Cable News Thrives: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. A lot has been written about ratings for the NFL and NBA. The NBA is coming off record lows for the Finals, while the NFL's numbers are down a little bit across the board.

Everyone is twisting themselves into a pretzel to explain the lower numbers when it comes to these two leagues because they are the most popular in this country. But the truth is that almost every league has faced plummeting ratings. In many cases, leagues have experienced record lows over the past few months.

The one exception has been the WNBA. According to ESPN, its coverage of the Seattle Storm’s championship-clinching win in Game 3 of the Finals was up 34% year-over-year over Game 3 of the 2019 WNBA Finals and up 27% over the Washington Mystics’ Game 5 championship win last year.

The Finals between Seattle and the Las Vegas Aces averaged 440,000 viewers for the three-game series, up 15% over the WNBA Finals.

That's about it for the good news when it comes to sports ratings in 2020. Everything else is a disaster. 

Here is a sampling of those horrible numbers via Sports Media Watch:

• The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged 953,000 viewers across NBC's TV and digital platforms. That's a 38% decrease compared to last year.

• The final round of golf's U.S. Open averaged a 2.0 rating and 3.21 million viewers for NBC, the lowest rated and least-watched final round of the tournament ever and down 55% from 2019.

• The Preakness on NBC was down 56% in viewership from 2019.

• Even when there's good news, there's bad news. Last Saturday's Tennessee-Georgia game on CBS averaged a 3.1 rating and 5.77 million viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched game of the season. However, the rating was still 21% lower than CBS's Week 6 SEC game in 2019. 

It was also the first game of the season to average at least a 3.0 rating. By this date in 2019, 15 college football games averaged at least a 3.0 ratings. 

• Sunday's Game 1 of the ALCS on TBS drew 2.07 million viewers. Monday's Game 2 of the ALCS drew 1.88 million viewers. These are now the two least-watched LCS games ever. The viewership numbers for the two games are down 66% from the first two games of 2019's ALCS.

The takeaway from all this? Cord cutting, completely different schedules, being in the middle of a pandemic and being in an election year have hurt all sports, and there isn't one single reason why any sports is suffering from lower viewership.

However, people flocking to cable news might be the biggest reason based on these numbers via AP.

• Fox News averaged of 4.42 million last week–up 63%.

• MSNBC averaged 2.75 million last week–up 38% 

• CNN averaged 2.59 million last week–up 172%.

The takeaway is simple: Without an election year in 2021 and with (hopefully) the pandemic becoming a thing of the past, most sports will enjoy a viewership increase in 2021.

2. The Braves led the Dodgers 7–0 in the seventh inning Tuesday night, but had to hold on for an 8–7 win. After the the game, one reporter kept trying to spin the Braves' win as a negative, but Atlanta pitcher Mark Melancon wasn't having it.

3. Once Derrick Henry stiff armed Josh Norman into another planet Tuesday night, you know he'd get this week's Angry Runs crown from Kyle Brandt.

Henry also had a great quote after the game about what he did to Norman.

4. This is great stuff by former Giants running back Rashad Jennings on Eli Manning. Jennings discusses Manning's dry sense of humor ("He's such a goof") and makes a point that I've never thought of before, but makes a lot of sense: Eli would've been a great character on The Office.

5. A brand-new SI Media Podcast will be released this afternoon with Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson.

In the meantime, you should catch up on recent episodes and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast. Recent guests include James Andrew Miller, Al Michaels, Dan Patrick and Kevin Harlan.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.

6. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Saw this clip for the first time over the weekend and was mesmerized as usual when Paul Heyman speaks. Here he is explaining his famous SmackDown promo on Vince McMahon. This is a must-watch for any wrestling fan.

7. SPORTS VIDEO OF THE DAY: Five years ago today, José Bautista gave us one of the greatest bat flips in baseball history.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.