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NBA Commissioner Blames Ratings Decline on Secondhand Streaming Services

Stephanie Sengwe

This year’s NBA season has been riddled with injuries to some of the league’s high visibility players, causing viewership of basketball games to wane, according to The Daily News. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson and Blake Griffin are some of the players who have either delayed entrance into the season or will not be playing at all.

Because fans know the big names won’t be playing, the NBA has had a hard time getting viewers to watch what are usually some of the season’s most anticipated match-ups.

While injuries have been problematic and will continue to be so, the NBA is also competing with the issue of secondhand streaming. According NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the fact that the league has a huge young fan base is proving to be a gift and a curse.

“There are then some structural issues in the way our games are delivered, and it’s something that we’re working through with our media partners now,” Silver said during a press conference for the NBA’s All-Star weekend on Saturday. “For example, it’s well-known that on one hand we’re celebrated by some because we have such a young fan base, but that young fan base is disconnecting from pay television in record numbers, and by disconnecting, not just simply not subscribing to cable or so-called cutting the cord, they’re not watching traditional paid television the way they used to. They’re watching over-the-top streaming services. They’re watching screens, but it’s not essentially pay TV.”

Though the league’s young fans aren’t watching games on TV, the NBA’s popularity online remains stellar. “So the good news for the league is that, when we look at all other data points, particularly what we see in social media, what we see in terms of distribution of highlights and general chatter around our games, we’ve never been more popular, but we haven’t found a way to connect those young fans to our broadcast through whatever platform they’re going to be delivered,” Silver concluded.