Bubble Glum–NBA Finals Ratings are Dismal

Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat players pause for the national anthem prior to the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

October of 2019 seems like it was a century ago. Back then, the 2019-20 NBA season was about to begin, and across Los Angeles there was debate about which LA team had improved themselves enough to win an NBA title. The Clippers were the blue collar, workmanlike team that everyday Angelinos were supposed to embrace. The Lakers were glamorous, exciting, sexy, and hoping to revive a new version of Showtime led by LeBron James and his new super sidekick Anthony Davis.

Fast forward to Friday. The Clippers led the league in under-achieving. A second-round choke job in the playoffs bounced them out of the bubble with their tails between their legs. The dominos then started falling, with head coach Doc Rivers getting fired and then hired by the Philadelphia 76ers hours later.

The Lakers season is on the verge of ending like the 16 previous ones have for this storied franchise. With the team hoisting the (sanitized and germ-free) Lawrence O’Brien trophy after winning another NBA title, they face Denver on Friday night, already up 1-0 in the Finals. One of the biggest stories on Friday regarding the NBA is the TV ratings. They are dismal. Could it be because fans aren’t used to watching playoff hoops in October when it competes with football? Is it the fact that there are no fans in the stands? Or the aggressive left-leaning political stance the NBA has adopted, which potentially could alienate tens of millions of viewers? The bottom line is few are watching. Game 1 was the lowest viewership seen for the finals since 1994, and 45% lower than Game 1 last year between Golden State and Toronto.

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