The ratings from the first game of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat have come back shockingly low.
Down 45% in total viewers from last year's NBA Finals, only 7 million tuned in to ABC's broadcast Wednesday night. Despite featuring the league's most recognizable player, LeBron James, as well as a host of other all-stars, it drew the smallest audience for the league's championship series since 1994.
When the NBA returned to play this summer after a four-month pause due to coronavirus, many experts anticipated record high ratings, as sports-starved fans were anxious for the return of professional competition.
But the NBA chose to restart its season with a heavy dose of controversial Black Lives Matter activism, from anthem kneeling, to politicized jerseys, to slogans painted on the courts themselves.
At the start of last month, a Harris poll revealed that of the near 40% of fans who said they were tuning in to games less this year, the most commonly cited reason was "the league has become too political."