Ironically enough, on the same day, the league implemented plans to reduce spending and limit hiring “for the remainder of the fiscal year because of economic constraints,” according to ESPN.

“Like other businesses in the US and globally, the league office is not immune to macroeconomic pressures and taking steps to reduce expenses,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN in a statement.


The numbers don’t lie

In case you didn’t know, people aren’t watching the NBA like they used to. According to SportsMediaWatch, the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, “averaged a combined 2.2 rating and 4.59 million viewers across TNT and TBS, making it easily the lowest-rated and least-watched edition of the game. The previous lows were a 3.1 (2021 and 2022) and around six million viewers (2021).”


The NBA’s problems are bigger than fans choosing not to watch a glorified pickup game. People aren’t watching the games that will determine a champion, either. Last year, the NFL was responsible for 82 of the 100 most-watched U.S. broadcasts. College football had five of the top 100, political programming had four, the World Cup had three, and college basketball had two. The NBA was unable to crack the Top 100, as Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals came in at 108th.


Never forget that back in November Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said “We don’t have to have the NBA,” in response to how expensive things might get when the NBA’s media rights deal expires after the 2024-25 season.

It’s as if Barkley and Zaslav want the network to fail.

TV deals expiring soon

According to The Athletic, the NBA will have received $24 billion from Turner and ESPN when their TV deals end after the 2024-2025 season. It’s expected that the league will be looking for somewhere around $75 billion in their new deal. According to Tim Baysinger at Axios, sports leagues will eventually have to make a decision between getting the most money from a deal or reaching the biggest audience — as he believes the days of doing both are no more.


The NBA has a decision to make, and the guy who runs a network doesn’t seem to be making them a priority, while the biggest name at that same network — Charles Barkley — is telling people not to watch games.

There’s an old African-American proverb that goes, “Sometimes, it be your own people.” It applies here.