Which Sport is Doing Best on TV Since Return from COVID?
Analysts say it's perhaps for a variety of reasons, but so far the sport that Americans (and others) appear to be watching is the NHL. Of the major American sports (not including the mess that is NASCAR now), hockey appears to be it.
After a spike on the return day of Major League Baseball, the ratings have slipped for Fox and ESPN. According to sportsmediawatch.com, the three ESPN games last week all had lower ratings than the least-watched game they showed in all of 2019.
Fox had it's lowest numbers for a prime time game since September of 2018.
Meanwhile, despite a lift from some marquee games this week such as Lakers-Rockets, overall NBA numbers are 6 million viewers (four percent) lower than where they were pre-COVID (ESPN, TNT, and ABC combined). Aside from BIG matchups, the numbers continue to slip as a whole.
Meanwhile, the NHL has seen a surge in cable viewership, six of the 10 most-watched games of the entire season (2019-2020) have been played since the league restarted August 1st. The Round Robin playoff system appears to be grabbing viewers big time. Overall viewership is up, and ratings are climbing.
And, we've been paying attention to the Sling and other online cable-less sports ads you see on Facebook and other social media. One of them over the weekend proclaimed "basketball is back!" and advertised one of the upcoming NBA Weekend games. These are those 'sponsored' posts that show up in your feed. (watch this league or that league on your phone or other devices!)
We counted the reactions to this NBA weekend game post. Of 3.4K reactions, 1.6K laughed, 1.4 posted the angry face, and it was liked by only 261 people. The comments we read used a variety of "language" to basically show displeasure with the social-political stance being taken by the league.
Several comments put it this way: 'sports are supposed to be an enjoyable distraction from life, something to root for and smile; not a woke lecture by a bunch of spoiled ignorant athletes who know nothing about the average person's life.'
Many analysts concur that all the social justice finger-wagging and 'woke' programming in baseball and basketball is steadily turning viewers away. The political statements have been almost negligible in the NHL, and viewership is responding.
What was once a longed-for return for pro sports, hope from the cloud of COVID, has gone down the rabbit hole of political correctness.
Wonder if the NFL is paying attention? They better, unless they really want to take a hit this season.