Summer Time NBA Start would be a Major Change for Canadians
The Blue Jays should be concerned, very concerned.
Without diving too deep into the future of baseball, the possibility of the NBA playing summertime basketball this year and potentially in the future should have Major League Baseball teams worried.
In 2016, the median age of a baseball viewer was 57, according to a study done by the Sports Business Journal. That was up five years from 2006 and likely rising into this decade. Conversely, the NBA's median viewer was just 42 years old, the second lowest among North America's top 25 sports, trailing only the MLS.
A shift of the NBA season to more summer time action, as Atlanta Hawks chief executive Steve Koonin suggested, to avoid more of the NFL season, could be disastrous for baseball already facing serious questions about its viewership.
"If the Raptors are in a playoff run or in the playoffs it would decimate Blue Jays ratings no matter what time of year it is," said Jonah Sigel of torontosportsmedia.com. "If you took last year’s run and said that is now happening in the summer time, if it’s June, July, August, as opposed to April, May, June, I think that decimates, especially if the Jays are as bad as they were last year, it takes really bad Blue Jays numbers and makes them horrific."
That could have serious implications for Sportsnet, who currently splits Raptors games with TSN, but owns the summer holding the exclusive rights for Blue Jays games.
"Would you rather have nothing going on, yes, having summer to yourself is absolutely a luxury with one huge caveat, provided you have a viable product and people want to come out and watch it," Sigel said.
Aside from TV ratings, many wealthy Canadians would have to adapt their summer lifestyles to accommodate Raptors games.
"Can you imagine a Saturday game at Scotiabank Centre ... now you have to pull the Bay Street suits out of Muskoka to watch that game, can you imagine, like what percentage of people who are court side and or in suits and or in lower bowl seats aren’t in Muskoka every weekend starting May 24," Sigel said. "I think it would be a massive adjustment and I don’t think it would be a welcomed one."
Canadians are used to going fishing, sitting on the dock and golfing in the summer, Sigel said, then turning on a Blue Jays game for a few innings to relax in the evening. Watching an intense late season basketball game may be a major adjustment for the millions of Canadians who flock to cottage country every summer weekend.
Ultimately, the NBA's decision will likely be made with little thought paid to Canadians. If the league can generate more revenue from going head to head with baseball instead of football the a shift to the summer won't likely be too far away.