The NBA took over sports TV for Christmas Day with 5 hand-picked games. I have not seen anything about the ratings for those games but the folks in the executive suites at the NBA – and at the TV networks too – could stand some good news on that front. The fact is that for this season, which is more than one-third over, TV ratings are down sharply.
- NBA ratings on ESPN are down 17%
- NBA ratings on TNT are down 8%
- More than a few nationally televised games drew fewer than 1 million viewers.
Several years ago, the NFL went through a ratings slump which prompted some folks to conclude that the NFL had peaked and that it was going into a long-range decline. I thought that was foolish then; ergo, I am not here to lay down a marker that the NBA is on the brink of its demise. That’s nonsense. The NBA and its TV “partners” have some soul searching to do and may need to make some changes. Having said that, the two most prominent ideas out there representing “change” do not address what I believe is the NBA’s fundamental issue with regard to television:
- There are too many NBA regular season games. Far too many pits one team against another where the outcome has no real significance to either team or to the league. In many games, the body language – and the effort – of the players on the court demonstrates that the players recognize that lack of significance.
Unfortunately for the NBA, coaches and players are the ones that took that issue, made it prominent and even gave it a name – – Load Management. The current environment is that players who make up to six-figures per game cannot be expected to play in all 82 of them. The fans’ reaction seems to be that they cannot be expected to watch anywhere near all 82 of them.
The two prominent ideas out there to spark more interest in regular season NBA games miss the mark:
- We do not need a meaningless single elimination tournament in mid-season.
- We do not need to expand the playoffs to add a pair of “play-in games” to both Conferences.
The problem is that the league does not want to admit that there are simply too many games and they need to cut it back. I have always believed that the NFL became the TV monster that it is based on two things:
- Betting on the games that one can watch.
- The schedule makes each game day an event – – not merely an occurrence.
Moving on … Andrew Brandt is a former player agent and a former team executive with the Green Bay Packers. He is now a television voice of reason regarding the business of sports in general and the NFL more specifically. He posted this Tweet recently:
“Biggest FA contracts in 2019: Nick Foles (benched); Landon Collins and Trey Flowers (playing for cellar dwellers).”
That led me to check out the deals those guys signed last year:
- Nick Foles got 4 years and $88M with $45M guaranteed. In 2019, Foles has played about 3.5 games – due to injury – and his stats are mediocre at best. Indeed, the Jags have lost every game that he has started, and he will not start the final game of the season this weekend. The Jags’ record so far is 5-10.
- Landon Collins got 6 years and $84M with $44.5M guaranteed. He was supposed to provide leadership to the Skins’ secondary. So far, the Skins rank in the bottom third of the league defensively and Collins has zero INTs, four passes defended and one sack in 15 games. The Skins’ record so far is 3-12.
- Trey Flowers got 5 years and $90M with $56M guaranteed. His production for 2019 is 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 8 tackles for a loss in 15 games which is pretty much in line with his yearly stats over his entire career. The Lions’ record so far is 3-11-1.
When NFL free agency becomes a sports world focal point in a couple of months, try to keep in mind some of the details outlined above. A big-bucks free agent signing in March does not necessarily produce team success in December…
Last week, CBSSports.com had this headline and sub-head on the website:
“Person found dead inside porta-potty at M&T Bank Stadium”
“It’s the second port-a-potty related death at M&T Bank Stadium this year”
Details and cause of death were not available for the report, but there are some dots that may be connected. The Ravens previous game was a Thursday night game; police were called to one of the parking areas near M&T Bank Stadium at 2:00 PM on Sunday where they discovered the body. It is possible that the body was there for the better part of 3 days. If you think that this is “sort of bizarre” and that this must be the worst way one might die, here is what happened in the other port-a-potty incident at M&T Bank Stadium earlier this year. I will simply quote from the recent report:
“Earlier this year, a man died after being engulfed in flames while inside a burning porta-potty at M&T Bank Stadium. After catching fire, the man ran from the toilet and attempted to combat the flames in the parking lot, where he died before medical personnel arrived. Three portable toilets caught on fire during that incident and the cause was unclear, though it wasn’t believed to be related to a crime.”
Clearly the City of Baltimore needs to name a Blue-Ribbon Commission to study the issue of port-a-potty safety and spontaneous combustion. Citizens’ lives are at risk …
Finally, here is an entry in The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Drunk: Intoxicated with alcoholic beverages. An absolutely crucial component in the decision to photocopy one’s ass cheeks.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………