NBA first-round ratings drop 27 percent, 40 percent since 2017-18

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While the end of the first round added a boost in viewership for the NBA playoffs, overall ratings were down from recent seasons, as relayed by sports-media reporter Bobby Burack of OutKick.

Overall, ratings for the now-concluded first round were down 27 percent from last season, per Nielsen. The league's ratings has also dropped 40 percent from two years ago, Burack wrote.

The first round of the playoffs were an extension of the declining ratings prior to the NBA hiatus in March. 

According to a report from Sports Business Daily in February, national television viewership for regular-season games nosedived 12 percent compared to 2018-19. Again, those were the league's pre-hiatus numbers.

On the bright side for the NBA, the Houston Rockets' Game 7 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder drew 4.1 million viewers, the most since a Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers game Jan. 31 drew 4.4 million.

The Rockets-Blazers Game 7, carried by ESPN, trailed only FOX News programming in Wednesday primetime cable telecasts, per ShowBuzz Daily

During the restart and playoffs, the NBA clearly has faced several challenges. 

For one, many of the games were broadcast during daytime hours, when viewership for all programming is down across the board.

The same holds true for all programming in the month of August, regardless of time.

That said, fans currently cannot attend games -- making television and streaming services the only way to watch. Theoretically, ratings should be up, or at least holding steady.

In comparison, the NBA has fared about as well as Major League Baseball, some nights better, some nights worse It has not done nearly as well when going head-to-head with single-day or weekend-only events such as NASCAR or golf.

Along with the actual games, much of the talk surrounding the NBA during the restart has been how it's faring on television, with no less than President Donald Trump even weighing in on the topic.

"I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA, frankly," Trump said on Aug. 27.

Overall, the end of the first round offered some hope for the NBA (the Denver Nuggets-Utah Jazz game was also a hit), and its desire to get more eyeballs on the product. 

But for now, it appears hope and a couple of promising Game 7s are about all that there is.