Fans have bailed on the Los Angeles Lakers during their miserable 2013-14 season, with local TV ratings down sharply from last year.
Looking at Nielsen’s “Live plus same-day” ratings for the 2013-14 season, the 57 telecasts of Lakers games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet have averaged 199,000 viewers — down a whopping 49% from last year at this time (390,000). The team has been without stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for just about all of the season, and has one of the worst records in basketball at 22-44 this season.
Meanwhile, viewership is also down, but by not nearly as much, for the city’s Clippers, which is a bit surprising since they have had a good season and are headed for the playoffs next month. It could be that the Lakers’ struggles have gotten some fans out of the basketball habit, and contributed to the decline for the Clippers — even if their games don’t regularly appear on the same network.
The Lakers’ ratings decline has swelled in recent weeks as even the most optimistic fan had to know that the team wasn’t headed for the postseason. Four of their last seven losses have come by 20 points or more and the three most recent Lakers games have averaged a meager 72,000 viewers; a year ago, games on the comparable dates averaged 586,000, or more than eight times as much.
Time Warner Cable Sports Network is in its second year of a 25-year, $5-billion deal as the local television carrier of the Lakers.
The Clippers, who lead the NBA’s Pacific Division, have averaged 96,000 viewers for their first 59 telecasts of the season on longtime carrier Prime Ticket — down 21% from 121,000 at this time a year ago. Their three most recent games have averaged 106,000.
This is believed to be the closest the Clippers have come to the Lakers in television ratings since the 1999-2000 season. And despite the declines, and remaining well behind the Lakers in popularity, the Clippers are still having one of their most-watched seasons to date.