- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Washington Wizards’ television ratings on NBC Sports Washington so far are down 57% from a year ago, the biggest decline in the NBA, Sports Business Journal reported.

This comes as TV ratings are down nationally as well, with Sports Business Journal reporting a 19% drop in ratings for ESPN’s game broadcasts and a 22% drop on TNT.

At 6-12, the Wizards are not one of the worst teams in the league but certainly near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. John Wall continues to rehab an Achilles tear that likely will sideline him for all of the 2019-20 campaign. But the Wizards still have a star attraction in Bradley Beal, the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer with 28.0 points per game.

Much was made about the changes NBC Sports Washington made to its Wizards broadcast team. Kara Lawson served two years as a color commentator after Phil Chenier left, but then Lawson left for an assistant coaching job with the Boston Celtics.

More importantly to many fans, Steve Buckhantz’s contract expired last year and was not renewed. The booth was filled by Justin Kutcher on play-by-play and former Wizards players Drew Gooden and Caron Butler as rotating analysts.

Further, local sports fans had something else to focus on during October, when the NBA preseason was played and its regular season began. The Washington Nationals’ run to their first World Series title likely had some impact on the Wizards’ ratings, an industry source said.

Are fewer fans tuning in because of the new broadcast team, the product on the court, the Nationals’ World Series or some combination of factors? It’s hard to say, but the trend is worth keeping an eye on throughout the season.

For a comparison, Sports Business Journal reported that the Golden State Warriors have seen a 51% drop in ratings on their local NBC Sports station. The Warriors are coping with injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, no longer have Kevin Durant, and are a league-worst 4-18.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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