The lockout was long - especially when you follow the NBA on a daily basis. So there was plenty of time to kill debating things. One thing we worried about was the popularity of the sport.
Here are some stats that Henry came up with.
- ABC has had just three games, so it's hard to say anything conclusive, but the audience is up five percent compared to a year ago.
- ESPN viewership is up 23 percent.
- TNT viewership is up 50 percent.
- NBA TV viewership is up an insane 66 percent.
- NBA on regional cable sports networks are up 12 percent.
- Local over-the-airwaves broadcasts are up 36 percent.
I can't say that I predicted this (or if I did, it was mixed in with a bunch of predictions that didn't happen) but I do remember telling a few friends at the time that the NBA was being crazy like a fox with the timing of everything.
On the one hand, you have crazy fans like me and most of you that were coming back to the NBA no matter how poorly they treated us. On the other hand, the casual fans are so wrapped up in baseball and especially football that they don't really even pay attention to the NBA until around Christmas anyway. So what did it matter (in the long run) if the league lost a couple of months? If anything, the drama of the lockout and the oddity of the shortened season has kind of piqued people's interest a bit.
Is the game better off for it? That's a long term question. But the question of "will the fans come back?" seems to have been answered.