US broadcast giant ESPN’s live coverage of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) 2020 Draft drew an average of 2.65 million viewers, down 16.5 per cent on last year’ edition, according to Nielsen data.
This year’s figures, taken from the US broadcaster’s ESPN and ESPNU pay-TV channels, are the lowest TV ratings since 2009, when the Los Angeles Clippers selected Blake Griffin as the number one overall pick. According to Sports Media Watch, 82,000 also watched the Draft via NBA TV.
With the coronavirus pandemic having seen the NBA Draft move from its traditional early summer slot and shift to a virtual format, it was expected that its viewership would take a hit.
Additionally the event had little momentum, with Anthony Edwards, selected first by the Minnesota Timberwolves, having last played for his former Georgia Bulldogs college team back in March.
Digitally, the Draft performed a lot better. According to Sports Business Journal (SBJ), Draft content scored new records for the NBA with 59 million video views and 296,000 total hours watched on its social media platforms.
Elsewhere, ahead of the 2020/21 season start on 22nd December, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has also announced the formation of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, a new organisation that will lead on the league’s equality and social justices efforts.
The coalition will be led by a group of five team governors, five players and two coaches, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver also sitting on the board.
The formation of the coalition is the latest step in the NBA’s increased social justice activity, including a US$300 million pledge towards an ‘economic empowerment’ foundation for minority communities.