Competing with "Dateline." On a Sunday night?!? Wow, that's pretty lousy for a league that renewed its TV contract last year for $7.44 billion through '08-16. The current deal was scheduled to run out this season, but ESPN/ABC/TNT forged an agreement for another eight years. In future seasons, the NBA will receive about $930 million a year for NBA broadcasts.
Compare that to the $3.735 billion per year that the networks currently pay the NFL. Considering that Super Bowl XLII netted gigantic ratings with a 43.3, and 97.5 million viewers, well, that's money well spent. In order for the NBA Finals to net that same kind of value, the Finals broadcasts would almost have to double their total number of viewers in the upcoming years.
The last Super Bowl made for one of the most-watched events in the history of television, so we can't blame the NBA's ratings decline on expansion of television channels and choices. Nobody's asking the NBA to net almost 1 billion viewers each night, either. For future amounts the networks will pay the NBA, however, one would have to hope for far more than 13 million viewers. This isn't a good start.
We're not talking a ratings beast in the slightest.
There is hope for King Stern . . . if the series pushes toward the maximum number of games, the later games in the series, Games 5-7, increase in ratings. However, if it's as cheap as the first two games, with stunts such as Paul Pierce's histrionics, then I can't expect a ratings monster to emerge.
So, what could people possibly expect to improve in the next games? I don't know. I won't be watching it on television, for the first time in years. Maybe I'll check a box score, or have the game update itself over the internet while I do something else, even though I have opportunity to watch the event on TV. Why would I feel this way?
I'd love to just breathe basketball at this time of year. I love basketball, and it's always been one of my most favorite sports. Unfortunately, in the last several years, I've grown to hate the current commissioner and the league that he meddles. The PR Nightmare of the Seattle SuperSonics looms over the sport, despite what ESPN would lightly report. Also, David would like to sweep Tim Donaghy under the carpet, but the reality of an official being compromised in countless games over years makes for a critical hit to credibility.
The NBA hit an all-time low in ratings for the 2007 NBA Finals. This season's installment appears to make for that as the trend. The Finals failed to draw supreme ratings with its brightest young superstar, LeBron James. It fails to draw ratings the next season with its 'greatest rivalry,' Lakers vs. Celtics. Something has to be done, David, beyond the silly concerns of the game's start time as the culprit. What more deceptions, spins, and excuses can I expect from a little man behind the curtain? David's buffoonery, deceit, and illogical reasoning are quite common.
Just remember, David doesn't want you to be such an American. Unfortunately, the league is incorporated in the United States. Maybe King David's the biggest problem the NBA faces.