NBA commissioner Adam Silver sat down with TODAY's Craig Melvin to discuss several things concerning the league. Around the 20:10 mark in the video above, he is asked about this year's NBA playoffs, specifically concerning the dip in TV ratings.
"Face it, LeBron is one of the biggest stars in the world, and he also played in the East," he began. "And so, the reason I look a little bit tired is a lot of our games are in the West, and it’s late at night. And I recognize most people choose to go to sleep at a reasonable time. And so, from a rating standpoint, not having LeBron in the playoffs, not having him in the East, has clearly impacted ratings." The ratings for this year's Lebron-less playoffs were down as much as 18 percent.
Silver acknowledged that, though the dip in ratings occurred primarily in the first round, more viewers are utilizing on-demand streaming apps as opposed to watching games on television, so the blame can't be entirely on James. However, his absence from the East (as well as the playoffs) may play a role.
"Fifty percent of television households in this country are in the Eastern time zone," he 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."
As for a solution, the league's commissioner revealed that the NBA may be flirting with the idea of starting West games earlier, as it may prove to be more advantageous from a business perspective. "Just think about people getting to those arenas after work if you start a game at 6 p.m. local time in the West," he added. 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."