LeBron James' move to the Lakers is having one negative effect on the NBA - it's killing TV ratings

LeBron James' move to the Lakers is having one negative effect on the NBA - it's killing TV ratings

lebron james

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  • NBA TV ratings are down to start the season.
  • ESPN has seen a 6% decrease in viewership while TNT has seen a 26% decrease, getting off to their worst start in a decade.
  • LeBron James' move to the Western Conference and the void left in the East has massively impacted the early time slots on telecasts.

One month into the NBA season, TV ratings are down, and LeBron James is partly to blame, according to Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

TNT's viewership is down 26%, and ESPN's is down 6%, with TNT averaging 1.79 million viewers per telecast, its slowest start in a decade, according to Karp.

James' move to the Los Angeles Lakers has been a big reason why. With James now playing on the West Coast, the early time slots have been hit hard. Meanwhile, the later slots, usually featuring Western Conference teams, have done well.

Via Karp:


"For TNT's early windows this season to date, the net is averaging 1.61 million viewers compared to 2.75 million viewers at the same point last season (zero James games this year vs. two in '17). But the late windows, which feature more prominent Western Conference teams, are seeing a less-pronounced drop, with two Lakers games to date. Meanwhile, ESPN is down 6% overall after 18 telecasts, averaging 1.69 million viewers compared to 1.79 million. But the net is up compared to the same time frame two years ago (1.61 million viewers for 14 games). James and the Lakers also have the top ESPN game this season, with 2.7 million viewers for the Nov. 8 matchup against the Celtics."

What also hasn't helped the networks is that the Eastern Conference's best teams don't register as high on the Richter scale.

The Toronto Raptors own the NBA's best record at 17-4 (as of Monday), but Toronto's market isn't included in Nielsen's ratings. The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers are in second and third place in the East but are two of the smaller markets. The Philadelphia 76ers can help boost the ratings, but the Boston Celtics have gotten off to a sluggish start, and the New York Knicks are only 7-14 and aren't featured as prominently on national TV.

Of course, the fall is not the NBA's main season, particularly with NFL ratings up this year. The NBA's ratings may still increase around Christmas, then once the NFL season ends, particularly when the regular season gets closer to the playoffs.