4.11 million viewers tuned in to see the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston rockets play Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Nuggets and Jazz drew 3.39 million. Having a captive audience has caused to ratings to boost for the NBA. The association is drawing an 80 percent larger prime-time audience than it did back in March when the league shut down.
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Sports media consultant Ed Dresser says, "There are so many things that are different—fewer people traveling, more people staying home at night and not going to restaurants—so the potential audience is actually larger."
Overall ratings are down from last year, and one of the main reasons is because of the odd times' games were being played during the restart. League and media insiders say it's hard to compare ratings from last year to this season when games are played in the evenings and weekends.
The NBA put itself in the spotlight last week when the Milwaukee Bucks chose to sit out of a game with the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. The Bucks decision caused a chain reaction with the league taking a few days off.
Even with the backlash that came from the league not playing games people are still choosing basketball over other forms of entertainment. Marc Ganis president of Sportscorp Ltd says. “There is an almost insatiable appetite for live sports on TV.”... “This is a time when not everything on broadcast and cable is up in terms of ratings, and people could be watching alternatives like Netflix, but they’re choosing sports.”
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.