Hawks CEO Steve Koonin has an interesting plan to increase revenue for the NBA. In an article by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, it was revealed that Koonin has spoke at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, which was moderated by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. He proposed that the NBA should start the season at a later point, thereby not competing with football season during the beginning of the NBA season.
Koonin believes the NBA season should start in mid-December, with the NBA Finals being in August rather than June.
On the surface, I could see how this would make sense. Football is most definitely king in the United States with NFL games getting at least tenfold of the viewership of NBA and MLB games.
However, things are not that simple. During football season, relevant games are only on four nights a week between college and the NFL. During baseball season, there is a game every night. Sure, with baseball, ratings-wise, it is easier to compete. However, what happens when the networks that cover both teams, such as Fox Sports Southeast with the Hawks and Braves, have to pick and choose between the teams on different nights?
It seems unlikely that the NBA’s broadcast partners would want to lose revenue by taking a huge hit in games broadcasted between the two sports. How will all these games get broadcasted? After all, that is how the majority of these channels survive unless you enjoy watching sports fishing during the day.
I also believe that in Atlanta’s instance, competing with the Atlanta Braves during baseball season could be a huge mistake. Atlanta is a baseball city, and while State Farm Arena is usually filled despite the Hawks’ struggles, a lot of the people in attendance would be outside at a Braves game if they had their choice during the summertime.
Overall, I think it is an interesting idea, but you also have to be careful what you ask for. While the NBA may compete with the NFL for a couple of months at the beginning of the season, I believe they have their time, and that is late Spring. It is still the beginning of baseball season, and during April and May, the spotlight is usually on the NBA at this time regardless. Then you end up having NBA free agency and the NBA Draft during football season, and summer league games would get minimal viewership.
If not for the standing agreements with broadcast partners, I could see how this would work, and it certainly could increase revenue if all parties agreed to it, but I am a big believer in if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I think this may simply be too big a hurdle to pull off this proposal, but it is interesting to see CEO Steve Koonin think outside the box.
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