Oh, my aching knees!
I’ve skated and played hockey for many years, and never had any trouble with my knees. But playing basketball (badly) during my teen years nearly did them in.
Why? I suppose some of it’s genetic. But with ice hockey, it’s pretty much a frictionless world (unless someone lines you up for a check against the boards.)
Watch the defenders — arms and legs wide apart, moving in a sideways, crab-like fashion (not to mention the endless stop-and-go torqueing movements.) And all of this in sneakers designed for maximum traction on a hardwood floor. Now do that at the professional level in a 6’ 4” / 210-pound body for 82 games (not to mention the countless practices.)
It has often been said that pro football is all about “the survival of the fittest,” but that expression equally applies to the grind of the NBA regular season that is played by the biggest and fastest players in the world from November through the first part of April. (And all of that is just a prelude to a 4-round playoff format in which the ultimate winner would have to play anywhere from 16 to 28 additional post-season games.)
As for the regular season, ad-supported cable has been following the sport as far back as 1983 (ESPN) and 1988 (TNT.) And last season (2014-15), these two mainstays aired (by our count) around 130 Live NBA games, delivering solid ratings and shares that were higher than year-ago levels:
But I would be leaving you with a mistaken impression if it seemed as though ESPN and TNT were the only cable players in town when it comes to the Regular NBA Season.
During the 2014-15 season, Viamedia clients invested in nearly four hundred regular season NBA games, with ESPN and TNT accounting for one-third of them (131 games.) Fox Sports Network (alone) aired 123 games, leaving three Regionals (YES, MSG and Comcast Sports) with 136 games in total:
Home Court Advantage
As we have found in other sports that we’ve blogged about, there is a significant divergence in local market ratings when that market’s NBA team participates in a national telecast. And while the divergences are driven by the participating teams, it is practically a guarantee that local market ratings will soar past the national average. On ESPN, for example, the December 16th, 2014 match-up between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies pulled down a 1.82 national rating. In Golden State’s home market of San Francisco, the local rating was 67% higher (3.03). And in Memphis – a 5-fold increase (9.16 rating):
Local Cable Advertising Demand
NBA basketball attracts a significant level of local cable advertising support. During the 2014-15 Season, well over 500 Viamedia clients in 64 markets ordered 15,700 30-second spots. That comes to an average of 28 spots per advertiser.
Source: Viamedia analysis of B.I.G.SM Sports & High Profile database for any and all local cable advertisers who invested in NBA games for the 2014-15 regular season (excludes play-offs and all-star games.) Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
And in confining our analysis to the 52 markets that exhibited advertising in both years, we found overall ad investments up 26%, driven by both an increase in the purchase of 30-second spots and a firming in average unit pricing:
1) 18% rise in unit pricing;
2) 7% rise in number of 30-second units;
3) 1% rise due to the multiplicative effect of units sold and pricing.
Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) across 52 Viamedia markets that exhibited local cable advertising on NBA games over the past two regular seasons (2013-14 & 2014-15.) Excludes play-offs and all-star games. Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Earlier, we documented the impact on local DMA ratings when a market’s NBA team appears on national cable television. In a similar vein, local market cable advertisers take it up a notch when their home-market team plays before a national audience. For example, the Viamedia market of Cleveland accounted for 9.2% of total local cable investments over the course of the entire regular NBA 2014-15 Season. But when the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Los Angeles Clippers on national TV, Cleveland’s share of total investments in that game rose to 14.9%:
Baby You Can Drive My Car
You’ll forgive the title for this section, but I couldn’t get that old Beatles song out of my mind after reviewing our category advertising data for the NBA. We’ve seen large shares for the automotive category for practically every sport we’ve covered, but nothing as large as this: 63% of all investments in NBA Basketball can be traced to auto dealerships and manufacturers. And out of the Top 20 largest advertisers over the past two seasons, 17 of them fall within the automotive category, comprising one-fifth of total advertising dollars:
Last year’s blog about the NBA regular season ended with a note about the return of LeBron James to Cleveland and Phil Jackson to the original pro team he played for, the New York Knicks. Little did we know back then that we paired two men going in very different directions. LeBron James (practically single-handedly) carried the Cavaliers to the NBA Championship final round, falling just short in a hard-fought series against the Golden State Warriors. And as for the west coast Zen Master? Well, he gets a very big assist (as President of the Knicks) in leading this once-heralded franchise to the bottom of the heap, winning a paltry 17 (out of 82) games! So, as the league enters its 70th year, you just never know what will transpire as the fates and fortunes of thirty NBA teams play out over the course of a very long, grueling season.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia