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Are Cord Cutters to Blame for Falling NBA TV Ratings?

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Dec 23, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Business Journal reported that National Basketball Association (NBA) television ratings on regional cable sports networks have fallen about 15 percent through the first half of the season compared to the 2015-2016 season. But the reporting lacked one element. How have cord cutters impacted the league’s TV numbers?

Remember these are not over the air TV ratings but cable TV and the cable TV industry has been losing millions of subscribers over the past few years, and it is not just limited to ESPN. It is all across the board, including sports and news networks because when you cut the cord, you are cutting a great many channels.

The news was a little better from this year’s All-Star Game, which didn’t do all that badly last Sunday night in the entire TV ratings spectrum. The game got about 7.8 million viewers on Turner’s TNT and TBS and had about 200,000 more viewers than in 2016 but it was one of the lowest rated NBA All-Star Games ever.

Clearly there is a subscriber problem.

The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, lost 542,000, 552,000 and 608,000 subscribers in December. ESPN has around 87,859,000 subscribers and has lost about 12 million customers since 2011, ESPN2 may have 87,730,000 subscribers and ESPNU has dropped to 69.2 million. Those numbers and revenues continue to drop which is not good for Disney as ESPN has a large investment in the NBA.

Turner is losing subscribers on both TNT and TBS and also has a large contract with the NBA. The regional networks are losing subscribers with their fees and some ad revenue, none of which is good news for sports owners and players and networks.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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