The Death of TV Sports Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
Recently an article came out that showed that the NBA had made gains among males in the demo (18-49) and among viewers overall. Why is this important? Because in recent years, sports ratings have been declining (mildly) as of late across nearly all channels and sports.
However, TV ratings in general have been declining as people have been cutting the cord and transitioning to Netflix and Hulu only. In the past, time slots were king, what was on before, what was on after. This is still important, but I would challenge that content is the new name of the game. We’ve already been seeing this transition occur, think how this has been called the golden age of television, it’s built on the backs of unique quality content. Normally this perspective has been reserved for scripted TV shows but I think this extends into live sports, what’s more unique and most importantly time sensitive than live sports?
This is also why the development of mobile and digital distribution of sports is so important. MLB.tv has been on the forefront of this for over a decade, and they recently sold their tech to Disney for one billion dollars. But this is only part of the puzzle, Disney is also in the process of buying 21st Century Fox’s entertainment and regional sports network assets for $52.4 billion. This adds up to a crystal clear picture, Disney has access to hours upon hours of live television rights, and they have acquired the leading technology to distribute it. The sneaky strong part of the acquisition is the Fox Sports Network’s regional cable networks, together they own the TV rights to 44 professional sports teams. This allows Disney to control the flex rights, highlight distribution, and broadcast control of a wide swath of interests. These operate oftentimes in totally different demographics and grant a new toehold to distribute ESPN branded content.
The NBA’s numbers show that live sports are still a juggernaut and Disney is ready for their next gamble.
The Beard Abides
For all the debate last season over whether James Harden should’ve won the MVP award over Russell Westbrook, this year there is zero debate. Bringing the Rockets to the best record in the NBA, dethroning the Warriors as the best of the West, the Beard will run away with the MVP crown.
The last three instances a player led the league in scoring with over 30 points per game, they won the MVP (Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant). Harden leads the league currently with, you guessed it, 30.4 ppg. So by that singular metric, he’s got it locked down to keep the trend going.
But it’s of course never that simple. Beyond the stats, Harden is the glue that keeps Houston together, and has led them to the staggering heights they sit at now. He is the most VALUABLE player bar none, as well as the best this year. And he deserves the title.