The NBA may soon be moving up the games involving some of its marquee teams and players in a move to improve television viewership.
Speaking on NBC’s Today show, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the decline in national NBA TV ratings this season, which fell 5 percent from the 2017-18 campaign. It was the first season in his career where LeBron James, one of the NBA’s most popular players, played for a team outside the US Eastern time zone. Thirteen of 30 NBA teams are in the Eastern time zone, but the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four league titles, and its prominent star Stephen Curry play the Pacific time zone, three hours behind Eastern.
“Fifty percent of television households in this country are in the Eastern time zone,” Silver said. “And so if your West Coast games start at 10:30 at night in the East, you’re invariably going to lose a lot of viewers around 11, 11:30. I mean, you can just chart it. You see how many television households turn off around 11:15, 11:30 at night, just because people have to get up for work in the morning.
“I mean, it is something we can address. We’re talking about it,” Silver continued. “I mean, it would obviously be less convenient to those fans on the West Coast if we played even earlier. I mean, just think about people getting to those arenas after work if you start a game at 6 p.m. local time in the West. It’s not the most convenient thing. It’s not as convenient for a television watcher on the West Coast, either. But when you look at the league from a national standpoint, it may make sense to play a little bit earlier in the West. And that’s something we’re going to talk to our teams about this summer.”
Such a move would also require consultation with the league’s TV partners, notably Turner Sports and ESPN/Disney.