Whether due to politics, timing, or more newsworthy current events, the undeniable truth about professional sports is that ratings have dropped recently in all three of the Nation’s major sports organizations — the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and the National Football League.
After coronavirus halted the NBA’s regular season, the association formatted a bubble template to resume the conclusion of the regular season, playoffs, and finals. By the end of the first round of the playoffs ratings were reportedly down 27 percent from last season. According to NBA reports, the league’s ratings have also dropped 40 percent from two seasons ago.
Even before the COVID-19 league shutdown, as per Sports Business Daily, national television viewership for regular season games plummeted 12 percent compared to the 2018-2019 season.
"I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA, frankly," said President Donald Trump on August 27.
The MLB was arguably the most impacted major sports organization since the abbreviated COVID-19 compliant season called for the regular season to be cut from 120 games to 60, an eight-team playoff league bracket, and a bubble style playoff/championship series.
As per a report by Dan Sanger, opening week of the MLB season averaged 756,000 viewers across ESPN and FS1, down 32 percent from the first week of last season.
The NFL began their regular season on stride but did forego preseason, which is already proving catastrophic as the injury reports are through the roof.
Being the last of the three major professional sports leagues to start in 2020, the NFL attempted to avoid feeding into the Nation’s current civil rights issues by allowing some teams to remain in the locker room during the national anthem.
According to Nielsen’s numbers, audiences for NBC’s season opener and Sunday night games fell five percent and 15 percent. ESPN’s first Monday Night Football of the season saw audiences down 18 percent and 27 percent from last season’s doubleheader.
The NBA has already begun the Finals Series, MLB is already carving out divisional series matchups, and the NFL is in the first quarter of their regular season. The question remains, how will professional athletes and league ownerships respond to this drop in viewer ship?