(New York) Audiences for the first four games of the NBA Finals have collapsed compared to last year, mainly the result of a schedule jostled by the pandemic, which is telescoping sporting events like never before.
The third game in the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat attracted just 5.9 million viewers in the United States, a record since the final games began to be systematically broadcast live. in 1982.
None of the first four games of this final exceeded 8 million viewers, which ranks them in the four worst ratings of the modern era.
Politicizing the NBA?
Several elected Republicans and conservative commentators immediately attributed this plunge to what they consider to be the politicization of the NBA.
After a dialogue with its players, the North American Basketball League has chosen to include the words "Black Lives Matter" on its floors this season.
It also allowed players to put civic messages on their shirts in the usual place of their name.
In late August, President Donald Trump himself warned that NBA activism would end up "destroying basketball".
" Strong competition "
But for Patrick Crakes, consultant and former executive of the Fox Sports network, the fall in audiences is primarily due to the "strong competition" facing the NBA.
Unprecedented in the history of major American sports, all four major leagues, NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL played at the same time in September.
The renowned horse race Preakness Stakes, which cannot be called activism, saw its audience cut by 55% last Saturday.
All the sporting events of the last few weeks have recorded significant declines.
The NBA also had to face competition from Donald Trump, whose coronavirus upset over the weekend and monopolized attention.
Tuesday evening, with a president back at the White House, the hearings of part No 4 recovered, to 7.54 million viewers.
In an ESPN interview on Sunday, NBA boss Adam Silver renewed the league's commitment to social justice and racial equality, but said he expected "a return to normal ”next season, with fewer messages visible on the air.
“I understand people who say, I'm with you, but I want to see a basketball game,” said Adam Silver.