Lakers no match for NASCAR head-to-head, as NBA ratings stay on low side
A break in the action didn't seem to impact the NBA's television ratings, and that news could be considered both good and bad.
The players' decision to boycott playoff games Wednesday didn't lead to a decrease in ratings -- but it didn't boost them, either, as relayed by Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.
In all, the league postponed games for three days before resuming Saturday. Among the games on the first day back featured LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in primetime, when they eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in a Game 5 of their first-round series.
That game was carried by TNT and drew a 1.8 rating and 2.92 million viewers, which only dipped 1 percent from Game 4 prior to the boycott. That said, Game 5 was the least-watched game of the series.
It also was no match for the NASCAR race on NBC, which coincided with the Lakers-Blazers game and drew a 2.4 rating and 3.87 million viewers.
But it's not been all bad or so-so news for the NBA. Like all television programming in August, viewership tends to be down overall and fluctuate depending on time of day and quite simply, what else is on.
Lewis pointed out this unpredictable trend.
"Earlier Saturday evening, Thunder-Rockets Game 5 averaged a 1.3 and 2.14 million — the most-watched game of that series (pending results for Monday’s Game 6)," Ratings and viewership jumped 59% and 80% respectively over Game 4, which aired on a Monday afternoon (0.8, 1.19M)," he wrote.
"Versus the comparable window last year, ratings fell 35% and viewership 30% from Game 1 of a Sixers-Raptors semifinal (1.95, 3.08M). Keep in mind last year’s game aired exclusively on TNT."
Overall, ratings for the playoffs are down around 20 percent from last season, according to data collected from Real GM and ShowBuzz Daily.
That said, the NBA's ratings aren't much worse than what the league was expecting, given the fact the league has never before held playoff games in August and September.
But a much bigger problem lies in what was going on before the suspension of play in March. SportsBusiness Daily reported in February that ratings for regular-season games had declined by 12 percent since the end of the 2018-19 season. Again, that was during the NBA's normal calendar year and prior to the league shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.