NBA Ratings Have Hit Rock Bottom – Lower Than Ever, Getting Worse Every Game

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

NBA Ratings Have Hit Rock Bottom – Lower Than Ever, Getting Worse Every Game


This year hasn’t been the first year the NBA has had problems with its ratings. But if we compare this year’s numbers to last year’s they are alarmingly bad.

While it was not too different compared to last season for most of the regular season, or at least the pre-coronavirus part, the numbers for the postseason, and Finals especially have been more than disappointing.

Last year’s Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors averaged 15.1 million viewers, according to a report by Sports Illustrated. The 2020 NBA Finals started off with an underwhelming 7.4 million viewers, and have gotten worse with 6.1 million viewers in Game 2, and 5.9 million viewers in Game 3.

When LeBron James last appeared in the NBA Finals in 2018 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 3 of that series against the Golden State Warriors was watched by 17.85 million viewers, in comparison.

This year’s Games 1, 2 and 3 were the least watched NBA Finals games in NBA history. 



Sure, there are many possible reasons and explanations for it. Bubble basketball without fans and big arenas simply isn’t cutting it for some fans. Also Game 2 taking place on a Friday, a day with notoriously bad ratings for the NBA, and Game 3 being played on a Sunday directly competing with the NFL, is a reason for the bad ratings. The games are also played in a time of the year that normally does not feature NBA basketball. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. 

The historically bad ratings could also have been arisen by the politicization and therefore polarization of the NBA.

Players, coaches and staff members are kneeling for the playing of the national anthem; players are allowed to wear social justice-themed uniforms with messages on the back; there were game protests against racial injustice in America.

While I am a fan of all this, and hope that more organizations speak out against injustices and racism, like the NBA, others have bailed on the sport completely because of it.

While the NBA was in a relatively tough spot before Covid, things have gotten significantly worse after. But even then did no one expect the Finals to suffer this much as a result.


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