The NBA: woker and broker

The NBA All-Star game is down 76.1 percent from its peak viewership.

Like all sports everywhere, the NBA has been suffering in the television ratings game, dating back to last season and the restart in the Disney bubble. That included an all-time ratings low for the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.

Well, it appears things aren’t much better today, as it was revealed that Sunday’s All-Star Game also hit an all-time ratings low.

Per Anthony Crupi of Sportico, Turner Sports’ coverage of the NBA’s midseason event averaged just 5.94 million viewers and just a 2.4 rating in the all-important 18-49 demographic. That was a drop of nearly 24 percent from the year-over-year average.

And consider this — the record high for the All-Star Game, which came in 1993, averaged 22.9 million viewers and boasted a 14.3 rating.

Professional sports are suffering from a triple whammy. First, demographics. All the outreach efforts to Hispanics, Asians, and other not-Americans can’t disguise the fact that not-white people don’t care about sports invented by white people as much as white people do. Ockham’s Razor suggests that they never will, for the obvious reason that they never have, and relocation to the USA isn’t going to cause a sufficient percentage of them to do so.

Second, the convergence of the leagues. The changes in ownership from a class that cares first about the sport to a class that cares about financial performance and influence over the masses is significantly reducing the quality of the product while serially turning off segments of people who increasingly become ex-fans.

Third, the behavior of the players. This is, in many ways, an extension of the convergence, because the behavior would not have been permitted by the old school owners. But it is nevertheless distinct, as the players are not so much biting as relentlessly gnawing at the hands of the people whose interest keeps them fed.

I am a lifelong NFL fan who was active in two fantasy leagues for more than 15 years. I subscribed to NFL Gamepass from the time it was initially offered. Two years ago, I stopped subscribing. Last year, I only watched part of the Super Bowl. Most damningly, I know a die-hard Packers fan and shareholder who didn’t watch one single moment of the NFL, not even when the Pack played in the NFC championship game at Lambeau.

Pro sports are not going to bounce back from their convergence. In fact, the pandemic is disguising the full extent of the catastrophic declines.