Warriors: NBA TV ratings are down, and the Warriors may be the cause of it

Warriors (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Warriors (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

In the early portion of the season, NBA viewership numbers have dipped substantially. While the league tries to pinpoint the problem, the answer exists in the Bay with the Golden State Warriors.

For everyone other than the group of eternal optimists, this hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable season for Golden State Warriors fans.

Sure, there have been breakout performances from the likes of guys like Eric Paschall. There have been feel-good improvements by guys like Omari Spellman. There’s even been the occasional D’Angelo Russell spice sprinkled in.

But the Warriors sit at 4-18 with a quarter of the season gone by us — the worst record in the entire league.

That may spell well for the Warriors’ draft prospects, but it hasn’t been good for the NBA.

As of this week, viewership totals are down across the board. ESPN is down 19 percent from last season’s totals. TNT is down 22 percent.

Those numbers are certainly alarming. But as fans and analysts across the NBA form a social media brain trust to attempt to pinpoint why those numbers are down, the answer in the Bay Area is abundantly clear.

Viewership has dropped a whopping 51 percent on NBC Sports Bay Area. That isn’t a typo.

A drop from last season to this season makes sense when you factor in that the roster is being held up by duct tape, Elmer’s, and crumpled drafts of letters to Chelsea Lane begging her to come back to the staff.

Still, this season was touted as the season where the power-balance would be restored, where the landscape would be leveled.

Every other team was supposed to have a “fair shot” with the Golden State Dynasty on hiatus. Dynamic Duos were supposed to dominate the league. LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Intrigue may have been established during the summer intermission — the NBA is still the North American sports leader in offseason headlines — but it’s tapered off.

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As the Golden State Warriors have fallen at the hands of injury, so too has viewership.

And it’s unveiling something that many NBA fans across the league may not want to accept — that the Warriors’ reign of terror may have been the best thing to fuel the ratings.

The truth is, without the evil empire that is — or, for this season, was — the Golden State Warriors, the NBA has no true villain to create that level of intrigue. There is a thin line between love and hate, and the Warriors straddled that line while the league became obsessed with them.

Stephen Curry is gone. Klay Thompson likely will not step onto the floor, in full uniform, at any point this season. Poking fun at the Warriors’ demise has come and gone in the blink of an eye.

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The league has struggled enough to pinpoint what games to put out on their national broadcasts, opting to blindly commit to games like the Dallas Mavericks taking on the New Orleans Pelicans instead of initiating flex scheduling.

The most dedicated fans have turned to more chord-cutting and streaming services to access their content, as well.

And no, they aren’t ponying up the $250 a year for a league-wide NBA League Pass subscription.

As much as it might pain fans of other teams to admit to this, a juggernaut team will always improve ratings. Fans will tune in to witness greatness. At the very least, they’ll tune in to root against greatness in the hope of preserving history.

Balance being restored may create interesting matchups in the playoffs. It may give other teams a chance to shine a light on some of the underexposed talents across the league.

But the league will welcome the Warriors’ return to greatness back with open arms next season.

Just as it has been for the last half-decade, the league has marched to the beat of Golden State’s drumming.

Next. Warriors understandably being cautious with Kevon Looney. dark

And just like the TV ratings, the Warriors grip around the NBA will surely return.