Sports, television, United States

The Spurs Are No Blockbuster

Spurs logo 2002–present

Ratings for the NBA Finals have been no cakewalk, especially when the San Antonio Spurs are involved. (Logo courtesy of NBA Properties)

The San Antonio Spurs under Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich pride themselves in depth, teamwork and execution, qualities that resulted in four NBA championships. And those same qualities are also the reason why they are competing for a fifth championship at this time of the year.

However, despite their success, they are not a ratings hit. Two of the four NBA Finals involving the Spurs registered the lowest average ratings in Finals history. The 2003 Finals against the New Jersey Nets had a 6.5 rating, while the 2007 Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers had a 6.2 rating. This year’s series against the Miami Heat, like the Spurs’ prior appearances, is expected to rate just as low, despite the presence of LeBron James in the series.

There are two reasons why the Spurs have some of the NBA’s lowest-rated games or series. They are a small-market club, meaning that they play in a city with fewer average television sets than in cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, New York or Chicago. In addition, many criticize the Spurs’ ‘boring’ style, which emphasizes on Duncan running half-court sets each and every time. Such a slow pace would have adverse effects on the viewer’s interest.

While the Spurs lack a decent amount of viewership in the United States, globally this was not the case. The Spurs boast a good cast of foreign players to complement the team, thus viewers in France (Tony Parker), Argentina (Manu Ginobili), Brazil (Tiago Splitter), and Australia (Patty Mills) would tune in to see their popular countrymen play. Such diversity in flag and country should never be taken for granted, considering how the NBA’s global popularity has grown.

As the NBA Finals go on, it will be interesting to see how the Spurs would fare once more ratings-wise. If this were to be a short series, the ratings will be much lower; if long, it will either be even or high. Regardless, ratings for the NBA Finals will depend on how this series is played out, in terms of entertainment factor, drama, closeness of the matchups and series characters.