The Pac-12 hasn’t won a national championship in men’s college basketball since Arizona State in 1997. If the conference somehow managed to break through, it would have more publicity—and all the benefits associated with it—than many people might think.
Pause for a moment and absorb this fact: The top-rated basketball games of 2022 were in college hoops, not the NBA.
The biggest college basketball game of the year, the Final Four 2022 in New Orleans, drew more numbers than any single game in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Keep in mind that the NBA Finals saw Steve Curry and the Golden State Warriors go out against the Boston Celtics. This was a magical match. It wasn’t the Grizzlies Bucks or the Jazz Heat.
Warriors vs Celtics was supposed to be an eyeball magnetic series, or at least a lot of people felt that way.
It didn’t really come true.
Most watched basketball games in the past two seasons:
17.7M UNC vs. Duke (2022-Turner*)
17.1 million Baylor vs. Gonzaga (2021-CBS)
17.1M UNC vs. KS (2022-Turner)
15.4 million Gonzaga vs. UCLA (2021-CBS)
13.9 million NBA Finals Game 6 (2022-ABC)
13.6M UNC vs St Peter’s (2022-CBS)
(* TBS / TNT / TruTV)
– Danny Nickel (@Dneckel19) June 17, 2022
Topping Game 6 of the 2022 Finals was barely Saint Peter-North Carolina, and Saint Peter’s-UNC was a blast from the start.
It is true that no final was played in 2022. Matches were consistently determined with a difference of 10 points or more. This is one of the reasons the ratings aren’t going up… but it’s clearly not the only reason.
Three of the five least-watched NBA Finals dating back to 1988 have occurred in the past three years. pic.twitter.com/NPVCY6JQ5t
– Sports media monitoring (@paulsen_smw) June 17, 2022
One thing to note about the recent trend of the NBA Finals pulling in smaller TV ratings is that with two days off between most games, the rhythm of each day in the series breaks apart. It would be great to see if the National Basketball Association played a final Sunday afternoon and Tuesday’s game after that to create a tighter schedule while giving players at least some rest between games.
Another obvious point to make is:
The rating/stock disparity is greater in the major demos. Game 6 has a rating of 4.3 at A18-49, -35% of 2019 (6.7), but the whopping 38 share is up by more than a quarter from 2019 (30).
4.3% of 18-49 = 38% of 18-49 who watch TV says a lot about where the industry is.
– Sports media monitoring (@paulsen_smw) June 18 2022
Few Americans watch TV these days. Few young Americans sit through a three-hour sporting event on television. However, more Americans watched Final Four matches than NBA Finals matches.
College basketball clearly has an attractive product.
It’s time to ride the Pac-12 wave. Imagine if USC could become a part of this story in the coming years.