How the Detroit Pistons compare to national TV ratings in the NBA

Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose drives. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

NBA Viewership

When it comes to comparing the Pistons-Nets game to other NBA competition from this season, the first place to look has to be the highly-anticipated debut of Zion. The game was also broadcasted on ESPN only a week before.

The Spurs-Pelicans game averaged 2,357,000 viewers with a 1.0 rating for ages 18-49. According to Adam Zagoria of Forbes, ESPN PR said those numbers were up 88% from a comparable game a year ago.

Weekend games tend to draw more of an audience for the NBA, especially when the Los Angeles Lakers are a part of it. On Saturday, the Lakers-76ers game reached an average viewership of 2,160,000, with a rating of 0.6 for adults aged 18-49.

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The Pistons-Nets game had the lowest viewership of any Wednesday edition of NBA on ESPN this season, and the lowest viewership on ESPN for an NBA game since November 8, when the Cavaliers-Wizards only pulled in an average of 825,000 viewers.

Despite the ratings being down across the league, and horrible teams like the Warriors and previously the Zion-less Pelicans constantly being on our screens, the NBA doesn’t seem to care.

In an interview with Ben Golliver of the Washington Post, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the ratings.

"“We know by every indicator of popularity that supply and demand aren’t meeting,” Silver said. “Many of our key constituent fans either do not subscribe to traditional cable or, as a matter of their viewing pattern and practice, don’t watch it. They’re engaged with other forms of media in which, because of the exclusivities in our current deal, don’t carry our live games.”"

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Silver is alluding to things like social media engagement, YouTube highlights, and more. The NBA has also shown interest in changing not only the distribution methods, but also the product itself. The league is considering adding a mid-season tournament to boost viewership during the doldrums of the 82 game season, which according to NBC Sports, teams remain skeptical of. 

Overall, if the NBA wants to address the ratings issues, a good start may be giving themselves a bit more flexibility when it comes to putting games on ESPN or TNT. Although the national television schedule is determined before the season, it is in the best interest of both the league AND the broadcasting companies to act quickly to show better games if something catastrophic were to happen like the injures to Stephen Curry and Zion, who draw a huge number of viewers on their own.

If the Pistons hadn’t lost their star forward Blake Griffin for the season, perhaps this matchup on a Wednesday night would’ve been more intriguing for the common NBA fan to sit down and watch. But the viewers didn’t care, and ESPN paid the price.

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