What happened to the NBA finals’ viewers?

What happened to the NBA finals' viewers?

Isaiah Adeleke, Opinion Editor

Before 2019, LeBron was in the NBA Finals for eight straight years. This means the last time he missed the Finals was two years before the first Avengers movie even came out, Obama has just been re-elected for a second term and I was still in day care. He’s given us some of the best Finals series ever, but this year, things were different.

Viewership of the NBA Finals went down in 2020. How is that possible? You have the most popular player in the NBA, LeBron James, playing for the most popular team in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers. What could possibly go wrong?

This year’s Finals between the Heat and the Lakers was the least-watched Finals of all time. Game one of their series brang in 7.45 million people. Last year’s NBA Finals game one resulted in a total of 15.14 Million people.

The three least-watched NBA Finals games of all time came from this six-game series alone, and that is truly a terrible sight to see as an NBA fan.

A big reason ratings dropped this year was the lack of casual NBA fans watching the games. The Golden State Warriors from 2015-2019 were in the NBA Finals five years in a row, and they gained a very large fanbase of people who rooted for them. 

Last year, their star player Stephen Curry was second place in jersey sales, but he got injured very early in the season.This year, the Warriors went on to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, and that large fanbase that contributed to the third-highest watched NBA Finals game back in 2016 (game 7) did not see any point in watching this year’s NBA Finals. 

The NBA is also competing with many other sports for viewership. The NBA Finals are usually in June. At that point, the NFL season is over, the NHL season is just getting finished, the MLB is in the midst of a long 162-game season and there is no college football.

The Finals were very different due to COVID-19. The pandemic pushed the NBA’s championship round all the way from June to October. That means the NBA Finals were competing with the MLB postseason, the Stanley Cup Final, the NFL regular season and a whole lot of college football. The NBA went from the hottest sport going on in June to being mixed in with all other major sports leagues in America, and that drastically changed who watched the NBA Finals.

Another factor on why ratings dropped were the lackluster matchups. The Milwaukee Bucks were the one-seed in the East and had the best record in the NBA. Many fans wanted a matchup between Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and either Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James and the Lakers. Unfortunately for NBA fans, the Bucks were upset in the second round by the fifth-seeded Miami Heat.

Oh well. At least we still got the “Battle of L.A.” with the Clippers and Lakers matchup that we have been begging for since March, right? Nope! The Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the second round and lost to the Denver Nuggets.

On top of the lack of casual viewers and bad matchups, injuries were also a huge factor. Okay, it’s the NBA Finals. The Lakers are heavily favored to win the championship now, but hey Miami has a chance, right? Nope! 

The Heat’s leading scorer Goran Dragić and All-Star center Bam Adebayo got injured in the very first game. If there was any chance of Miami winning the series, that ended all of it, and unless you were a Lakers fan, or a very big NBA fan, you weren’t watching the series because you already knew who was going to win.

I will not act like NBA ratings are the only ones that are dropping, though they have dropped significantly, during this pandemic many people are worried about other things rather than the NBA. People have to worry about their employment, catching COVID, and other things they would not have to worry about regullary in June.

There are multiple reasons why NBA viewership ratings went down so badly; some of these factors are long term, and some are very short term. The NBA has the best commissioner in all of sports in Adam Silver, so if there was anyone to get the ratings back up, it’s him.