NBA ratings up in primetime, but still down 30 percent overall

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The NBA ratings are increasing, at least for games in primetime, as the playoffs move along, as relayed by Sports Media Watch.

In a story entitled "NBA Playoff up in primetime, but not enough to overcome day game deluge," Sports Media Watch cited Nielsen ratings in noting that overall playoff ratings are down 30 percent overall from last season.

But a lot of that appears to do with the fact the league has been forced to broadcast games during weekday afternoon hours — when television viewing typically suffers regardless of programming.

That is especially the case in the summer.

"In addition to the dearth of primetime games thus far, no game has yet aired on broadcast network ABC — compared to two at the same point last year," Sports Media Watch reported.

On the plus side, the Los Angeles Lakers' Game 2 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on ESPN averaged a 1.9 rating and an average of 2.94 million viewers, which was better than any Game 2 in last year's playoffs.

Overall, this season's primetime games have averaged 2.74 million viewers, up 16 percent from the first Thursday of the 2019 playoffs. Games in primetime are those that tip off later than 8 p.m. EST (and 7 p.m. EST on weekends).

So it's the afternoon and early evening games that have driven down the ratings. Per Sports Media Watch, are averaging a measly 1.28 viewers early in the playoffs.

Mostly, it will be interesting to see how those ratings are impacted once more teams are eliminated and all the games move to primetime. 

Early numbers indicate the NBA can expect to gain viewers for the conference finals and Finals, though for the first time ever, those series will likely be going head to head with the NFL regular season and MLB playoffs.