Even though there are fewer fans at the games and TV ratings are lower, the NBA is still pulling in more cash than it was pre-pandemic, thanks to higher ticket prices. But this is just not a sustainable option as inflation keeps damaging the country and people have less money to spend.
The New York Post obtained internal NBA data that showed that the average income from ticket sales rose 10.2 percent compared to the 2018-2019 season, which was the last pre-pandemic season.
That means fans are now paying an average of $109 per ticket.
“That’s an 18.6% increase since 2018-19 and is roughly double the rate of inflation,” the Post reported.
In the new reporting from the Post, however, the NBA data showed that the number of fans at arenas actually plummeted 7.1 percent, or 13,603 per game.
“The numbers are still worse for underperforming clubs, with some suffering declines of more than 30% in paid home attendance,” the Post reported.
This season is the first normal, post-pandemic season, so it would have been natural to expect that people would want to flock to games. But in actuality, attendance has dropped.
A lower number of fans in the arena might not cause excessive worry to team owners, since TV deals still rake in the majority of their profits. But a continuous downward trend could be cause for concern.
“The troubling trend could pose problems for the NBA as it begins negotiations for its next lucrative TV contract, with the current $2.66 billion annual deal with ABC/ESPN and Turner Sports set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 season,” the Post reported.
Currently, the league generates about 70 percent of its revenue through media rights.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is reportedly seeking a new, nine-year deal that would pay $8 billion a year, Nation World News reported.
“I’d be wondering if this is a canary in a coal mine,” a source who advises NBA teams said, the Post reported. “If I were Silver, I would be on the teams with the biggest attendance drops telling them it was unacceptable.”
While the NBA scrambles with these issues, this is simply a microcosm of the bigger inflation crisis that Americans are suffering under.
The inflation rate was already skyrocketing, and then the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that it once again spiked in April, by 0.3 percent.
Now inflation is at 8.3 percent.
There are food shortages across the U.S., as The Hill reported.
Gas prices are going higher and higher, with a national average of $4.41 now, AAA reported.
With struggles to just pay for food and fuel, Americans are not as focused on entertainment and using hard-earned money to go to basketball games.
On top of that, the increasing “woke-ism” of the NBA and its ties to China don’t have Americans as thrilled about the NBA as before.
In the midst of the pandemic, the NBA’s relationship with China and particularly with a Chinese-based basketball academy located in the controversial region of Xinjiang (where China is oppressing the Uyghur people) had a spotlight shone on it, Sports Illustrated reported.
Eventually, even U.S. Senators requested that the NBA terminate its ties to China. It did so, but it nonetheless put the NBA in a bad light that Americans did not love.
That, along with the woke politics the NBA has embraced, has simply diminished fans’ enthusiasm.
As Clay Travis, a sports journalist and commentator, is known for saying, “Get woke; go broke.”
Between the vaccines (i.e. the debacle over Kyrie Irving), Black Lives Matter and the ties to China, the NBA has broadcast that it’s increasingly leaning left.
“[N]o sports league has become more political and more left wing in the history of our nation than the NBA has over the past couple of years. And for those of you who didn’t pay attention, last year they put ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the basketball court,” Travis said last year on Clay and Buck.
“All of these hypocrisies have turned off a huge number of people that otherwise were consuming the NBA’s product, and the ratings are telling us that story,” Travis said.
Add to all this, the increased price of tickets, and people are just not going to show up at games. This is just one more straw on the camel’s back.
The NBA may be worried about TV deals and money and inflation is going to keep hurting them. But even more than that, inflation is hurting average Americans.
As a multi-billion dollar establishment, sure, the NBA could lose tons of money, but sports should be for the fans, not the executives. Lower the ticket prices and encourage the fans to come. In the end, higher attendance would probably help the NBA anyway, by helping to secure the TV deals it needs.
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