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Experts Expect Major Bounce Back For NBA Finals Ratings

“Lewis is bullish on the NBA. He says so much of last year’s decline in viewership for the Finals and the playoffs can be attributed to what Covid-19 did to the league’s schedule. With things closer to normal for 2021, he expects a major bounce back.”

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Richard Deitsch of The Athletic used his Friday column to ask two sports media watchers what they made of recent television ratings for the NFL Draft and the Kentucky Derby. Deitsch is of the opinion that they may signal a turnaround for sports on TV. He asked Sports Media Watch’s Jon Lewis and Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp to get specific.

Lewis is bullish on the NBA. He says so much of last year’s decline in viewership for the Finals and the playoffs can be attributed to what Covid-19 did to the league’s schedule. With things closer to normal for 2021, he expects a major bounce back.

“It would be absolutely shocking if the ratings of the NBA Finals were not up double digits,” he said.

Timing is the key in Jon Lewis’s mind. He notes that the first round is supposed to tip off on Memorial Day. That is virtually in lock-step with the more normal start that we saw in 2019, when the playoffs started the day after the holiday. He also noted the elephant in the room: given the choice between the NBA Playoffs and any NFL football, America tends to choose the NFL.

“Last year if they had had the Finals out of the way by maybe Week 1 of the NFL season, I think they would have gotten some better numbers,” Lewis said of last year’s disappointing ratings for the NBA Playoffs. “Nothing dramatically better, but still better than what they got. So time of year matters.

Karp added that there is another key advantage the NBA would have in achieving a ratings rebound. The New York Knicks are not just relevant. They are actually good.

“If they can make a run here and make it to maybe the Eastern Conference semifinals or finals, you’re going to see a huge number coming out of the New York market,” he said. “That’s really going to help boost some of those numbers.”

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XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN

“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”

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All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.

This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.

“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.

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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs

“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”

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More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.

The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.

At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.

With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.

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Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL

“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

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The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.

Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.

Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.

“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.

“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.

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