Less people are watching basketball than last year. NBA ratings are down as fans complain the sports has grown “too political” recently.
According to Sports Media Watch, NBA Playoffs has averaged 30% less viewers compared to last year.
According to a Harris Poll that surveyed 2,000 people, 39% of fans say they are watching less games. The chief complaint is “the league has become too political,” which 39% chose. Not having fans present due to the pandemic turned off another 29% of voters. According to the poll, 19% chose not to watch due to the NBA’s association with China.
“While the data shows the league’s political leanings will undoubtedly cause some not to watch, the NBA is balancing the issue of racial injustice, supporting its players and completing a successful finish to the season,” John Gerzema, the Harris Poll CEO, told Forbes. “The basketball bubble has kept the league immune from cases of (COVID) infection but not immune from the impact politics can have on ratings and public sentiment.”
Republicans were more likely to call the NBA ‘too political.’
The poll found Republicans were more likely to call the NBA “too political” than Democrats. According to the poll, only 34% of Republicans “actively follow” the NBA compared to 48% of Democrats, the largest gap of any sport. Around 57% of Republicans felt the NBA was political compared to 22% of Democrats.
President Donald Trump commented on the NBA’s ratings, saying the sport is “highly political.” The president has criticized both the NFL and NBA for their recent protests against social inequalities.
According to Forbes, a different schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic may be responsible for the drop in ratings. For instance, ratings for games played in prime time are higher than last year. The NBA isn’t the only sport that saw a recent drop in views. Ratings for the NFL have been down since the season opened.