David Stern was asked to explain the late start times for the NBA Finals.
"The ad rates only go up if the ratings go up," Stern said when pressed if ad dollars were a driving factor behind the late tip-offs. "The ratings only go up if there are more people watching and so NFL's Monday Night Football, they moved it to 8 p.m. starts and fewer people watched. So they moved it to 9 because that's where they were going to get the largest audience."
Stern was then asked why the Super Bowl was scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start if the numbers showed more people tuned into NBA Finals games at the later hour.
"I don't know," Stern replied after a pause. "I don't know why. I don't know why … we have had three networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC who have told us that despite the maniacal rantings of East Coast radio, that we would get the largest aggregation of our fans if we do it as close to 9 p.m. as possible."
Here's the translation:
Advertisers dictate everything in the NBA. Those advertisers don't really care about the kids, because they're selling their products to the adults. They're selling trucks and beer. The kids stuff gets sold on Saturday mornings. So to get the most adults that make enough money to buy stuff (oh…. like the 25-54 age group), the games start at a time where most of them will get a chance to watch TV. That's 6pm Pacific (even the late ones will tune in by the second quarter) and 9pm Eastern (the West Coast stragglers will make up for the "gotta get to bed at 11" crowd).
So that's that. Now… the only people out there that can make a difference are those of you with ratings boxes. I assume most, if not all, of us can watch the game an not affect the ratings because we don't have the ratings boxes.
BUT… if any of you DO have a box… you CAN make a difference. Watch the games at a friend's house or a bar. The ratings will show that you (and the thousands of people your ratings box entry represents) didn't tune into the game. Obviously… you did tune in. But the box doesn't know that. The box registers that the game was off.
It literally takes only a few people to shave full ratings points off the final numbers. It would be nice if that could happen… just to send the NBA a little message.