NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently shared his perspective on the shifting landscape of television viewership, emphasizing the impact on the NBA. He expressed his concern during an interview with Yahoo! Sports this week.
“In our current paradigm, it’s meaningful to us that our Finals are still on network TV, that we have a significant complement of games on network TV, and that virtually all of our other games are on basic cable.”
“We recognize that, in some ways, the decline of cable has disproportionately impacted the NBA. Our young audience isnt subscribing to cable, and those fans arent finding our games.” 🏀📺⏬https://t.co/KXcnDjBswN
— Awful Announcing (awfulannouncing) October 27, 2023
“Now, of course, we’re paying attention to the fact that not only is the basic cable universe decreasing, but the demographic of that audience is changing as well. It’s beginning to look less like America — older and less diverse — and the NBA has a particularly young and diverse audience.”
“So we recognize that, in some ways, the decline of cable has disproportionately impacted the NBA. Our young audience isn’t subscribing to cable, and those fans aren’t finding our games.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces the return of the classic East vs. West format for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. pic./ingdASk5GJ
— NBA (NBA) October 25, 2023
“But there are still roughly 65 million homes in America that are consuming sports in a very traditional way, and even more people on network TV. Is that declining? Yes. Is that going away anytime soon? I don’t believe so. So we want to be on all of those platforms.”
The NBA is currently in exclusive negotiations with its current broadcast rights holders, ESPN and TNT, as their deals expire in 2025. These networks are likely to reduce their packages, leading analysts to speculate that streaming platforms may become involved. NBC and Amazon are among the potential bidders for NBA rights.
Despite the changing media landscape, the NBA has faced challenges in viewership, with a decline from the peak during the Golden State Warriors dynasty. To address this, the league has introduced fines for teams that rest star players during nationally televised games.
Rich Paul represents NBA sensations like LeBron James and negotiated almost $900 million in deals this past summer alone.
This Sunday, BillWhitakerCBS traces Pauls unlikely journey from the east side of Cleveland to his glittering life today. https://t.co/mEN4CWeXMW pic./i93vgvrwag
— 60 Minutes (60Minutes) October 5, 2023
Simultaneously, local broadcast deals are facing difficulties due to Diamond Sports’ bankruptcy and the evolving cable bundle.
While some, including NBA super-agent Rich Paul, believe that a direct-to-consumer model is the future, it is not yet robust enough in 2023 to support a billion-dollar league.