NBA’s ratings JUMP about 30 percent as the NFL’s television audience continues to dwindle

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
By Paul Martin

ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV have seen a 32 percent ratings bump for NBA games
Improving teams in major markets, like New York and Philadelphia, have helped
The Philadelphia 76ers have seen their average attendance go from just 14,881 fans a game in 2015-16 to 20,263 a game for the 2017-18 season
The NFL has seen national ratings decline from 16.5 average viewers last year to just 15 million this season, according to data compiled by RBC Capital Markets
President Donald Trump has pointed to controversial protests during the national anthem to explain the NFL’s ratings downtick, but audiences have been slowly moving away from the league since before the demonstrations began

By Alex Raskin Sports News Editor
5 December 2017

While the NFL is enduring a ratings decline for the second consecutive season, the NBA is enjoying a resurgent year as national broadcasters ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV are seeing a 32 percent ratings improvement so far, according to Nielsen.

The NBA’s three national broadcast partners’ are averaging 1.4 million viewers per game, which marks the highest start to a season since the 2010-11 season – LeBron James’s first with the Miami Heat.

James is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers now, and he remains one of the league’s top draws.

In fact, the Cavs’ season opener against the Boston Celtics on TNT averaged 5.6 million viewers, 3.2 million of whom came from the coveted 18-49 demo, according to Ad Age .

The November 22 matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder did even better, according to USA Today, drawing 3.23 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo – ESPN’s highest-rated regular-season NBA broadcast since 2016, when the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks drew 3.69 million viewers and a 1.4 rating in that demo on Christmas Day.

ESPN’s November 22 broadcast benefitted from Warriors’ forward Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City, where he won the NBA’s MVP award in 2014, not to mention the Thunder’s off-season acquisitions of All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.

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