NBA viewers flee as the league turns “too political,” poll finds

by Peter Heck · Sep 4th, 2020 8:42 am

Last Updated Sep 5th, 2020 at 6:20 am

A recent Harris poll has revealed that 39% of self-identified sports fans have chosen to watch fewer NBA games this season, largely because the league has become overly politicized.

Following the pandemic-induced sports-drought, many expected a ratings surge for the return of basketball. Instead, even heading into the playoffs, viewership for the NBA has tanked.

Of those who acknowledged watching less of the NBA:

  • 38% of respondents said it was because "the league has become too political"
  • 28% of respondents said it was because the games are "boring without fans"
  • 19% of respondents said it was because of the NBA's relationship with China

The ratings drop caught the attention of President Trump.

The Harris poll also revealed a far more notable partisan distinction in NBA viewers than other leagues.

"Harris also found the NBA is more partisan than any other sport. Only 34% of Republicans say they 'actively follow' the NBA, compared with 48% of Democrats. The gap of 14 percentage points is the largest of any sport. For comparison, 54% of Democrats actively follow the NFL versus 51% of Republicans," Forbes wrote.

The NFL kicks off its 2020 season next Thursday.


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