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Did the Miami Heat actually will themselves to a win against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals if no one saw it happen? NBA Finals ratings fell to a record low during the Heat’s 115-104 win over the Lakers in Game 3, according to Sports Media Watch.
The overall numbers look pretty bad. Game 3 averaged a 3.1 rating and 5.94 million viewers. Those numbers made Game 3 the least watched and lowest rated NBA Finals game on record, according to SMW. That continues a poor trend for the 2020 NBA Finals. Prior to Game 3, the record for the least viewed Finals broadcast came during Game 2. Before that, the record belonged to Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals.
Why are NBA ratings so bad?
While those numbers aren’t encouraging, the NBA isn’t the only sport to see a ratings decline in 2020. Nearly all major sporting events have seen a decline in ratings, according to SMW.
Across the three NBA Finals games thus far, six Stanley Cup Final games, four rounds of golf’s U.S. Open, horse racing’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness and motorsports’ Indy 500 — each of which was postponed from May and June to August, September and October — all have declined double-digits, and ten of the 16 total telecasts have sunk by at least 50 percent.
On top of that, Game 3 marked the first time an NBA Finals game occurred on an NFL Sunday. The “Sunday Night Football” game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers drew viewers away from the Finals.
There are some who will claim NBA viewership is down due to player protests, though it’s tough to fully verify that considering other factors are at play.
NBA Finals ratings being at an all-time low is due to the fact that an NBA Finals game without a crowd is not a great product. Combine that with increased chord cutting and even more options. The NBA’s position on politics and race has very little to do with it.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 5, 2020
Have the protests in the NBA played a role in the league’s declining viewership? Perhaps. But the fact that all sports — and not just the NBA — have seen ratings decline suggests there are other reasons fans are less interested in watching sports in 2020.
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