Remember back in November? People were saying they would never watch the NBA again. The lockout — a battle of millionaires and billionaires — had soured everyone to the game and was going to make fans tune out. That was one of the driving forces behind the NBA getting back to the court by Christmas. A year without a season certainly would have put the NBA out of the public’s eye and killed all the positive momentum the league had built the last few seasons.
There were still questions when the NBA opened its season back on Christmas Day whether fans would come back to the league after such a protracted and bitter battle.
The answer, as the NBA’s regular season gets set to conclude? Oh, the fans will come, Ray. They will come.
And they have come.
According to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY, ABC and TNT have seen increases in TV ratings and ESPN’s number has held steady during this crazy rushed season. It would appear that the lockout had little or no effect on viewership for the NBA. It would seem interest in the NBA is as healthy as it was last year.
Heistand reports ABC is averaging a 10 percent increase in viewership and TNT is seeing slight increases, but remains extremely popular with some of its most-watched games in network history.
So what the basketball has not been great all the time — did anybody see that tank-tastic Celtics-Heat game Tuesday on TNT? People are still watching and enjoying basketball.
And with the Playoffs starting and the stakes ramping up, that interest might be getting ready to increase.