For two years now, the NBA was dominated by political activism.
Many wondered how it would affect the league’s financial bottom line.
And now everyone knows because the NBA’s anti-Trump protest had this surprising effect on TV ratings.
The saying “get woke and go broke” applies to the NBA’s TV audience.
When the league came back from the coronavirus-induced hiatus in the summer of 2020, the NBA painted Black Lives Matter on every court in the Orlando bubble.
The players wore social justice messages on the back of their jerseys.
And the players even went on strike during the playoffs after the police shot Jacob Blake after Blake allegedly kidnapped two children he had with a woman who accused Blake of raping her.
In 2021, the players kept up their political antics and the fans turned off the TV.
The proof is in the ratings pudding as TV audience numbers dropped dramatically from 2019, the last season that politics didn’t dominate the NBA.
Compared to 2019, TNT’s 2021 slate dropped 19%, from 1.5 million to 1.2 million. ESPN fell even further, down 26%, from 1.6 million down to under 1.2 million.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver once blamed cable packages for collapsing ratings. Has he seen what his sport is doing on ABC, the NBA’s sole broadcast partner? ABC tanked 25% between 2019 and 2021, going from 3.6 million to 2.7 million. That’s a new all-time low. Since 2011-12, ABC’s NBA broadcasts are down more than 45%. Nearly half of the audience has left.
Most businesses would care if their practices drove away their customer base.
But NBA players don’t seem to mind that they are alienating fans across the country with their political protests, and they show no sign of slowing down.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.