Can NBA Ratings Bounce Back After Double-Digit Declines?

Sean Burch and Tony Maglio

The NBA is throwing up ratings airballs on national television. Thus far this season, viewers are rejecting the National Basketball Association’s key TV offerings, with the league’s two national cable partners, ESPN and TNT, both down around the 20% mark versus this time last year. ESPN has seen its total-viewer averages drop 19% this fall; the Turner cable channel’s decline is 4% worse than that. At first blush, this subtracting viewership might not seem to add up. Basketball, after all, is supposed to be the young, hip sport that’s steadily gaining traction in comparison to football and baseball — with Gallup showing it is the second-most popular sport in the U.S. for all key demos last year. So what gives? And can the NBA expect to bounce back from its early struggles? J.A. Adande, director of sports journalism at Northwestern University, said above all else, a “loss of stars” has decimated the league so far this year. “So many key players and big names are hurt right now — Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson, [even] Kyrie Irving has missed time. It’s such a star-driven league that it’s difficult for the NBA to recover from that,” Adande told TheWrap. “It feels...

Read original story Can NBA Ratings Bounce Back After Double-Digit Declines? At TheWrap