‘Worst basketball game ever played’? 2023 NBA All-Star Game draws record-low TV viewership
A look at some of the factors that could have contributed to the record-low TV viewership of the 2023 NBA All-Star Game
Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game, hosted in Salt Lake City, was the least-watched midseason showcase on record, according to Sports Media Watch.
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game averaged 4.59 million viewers, including the “Inside the NBA” broadcast on TBS, marking the first time the All-Star Game has fallen below 5 million viewers.
Despite the best dunk contest in years and an entertaining 3-point Contest, All-Star Saturday Night also drew the lowest viewership ever. An average of 3.42 million tuned in on TNT, the first time All-Star Saturday Night has drawn an average of less than 4 million viewers.
Why was viewership for the All-Star Game so low? It could be due to a number of factors.
The All-Star Game has had bad defense for a while now, but players usually lock down a little bit in the fourth quarter. This year’s contest featured pretty much zero defense throughout the whole game, leading Team LeBron coach Michael Malone to call it the “worst basketball game ever played.”
If you go into it with the right expectations, watching the All-Star Game can be fun, but I certainly understand the average fan not wanting to spend two-plus hours watching a game where no one is trying on defense.
The 2023 edition was also missing a few stars — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant were voted All-Star starters, but missed the game due to injuries.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was injured in a game just before the All-Star break, and played just 20 seconds, getting in a dunk before exiting. James didn’t return to the game after halftime after he got his finger caught in the rim during the game on a chase-down block.
In 2020, the NBA tried to shake up the All-Star Game with the “Elam Ending” format, where the fourth quarter is untimed and played to a target score, which provided excitement in 2020.
This year, Team Giannis’ lead was too big entering the final quarter, so there was no close ending like in previous years.
The rise of social media and YouTube highlights mean fans can catch the best parts of the game later without having to sit through the whole contest.
Before teams started televising every game, the All-Star Game provided a chance to see the stars live on TV. Now, you can watch your team play those stars in games that matter throughout the season.
Personally, I think ratings could rebound if players tried throughout the game, but I’m not sure if the NBA will ever get back to that. Players are concerned about suffering an injury during an exhibition game.
“I don’t know if you can fix it,” Malone said.
“Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, those guys were like competing. Joel was imploring some of the guys to play harder, to try to get some defense in. No one got hurt, they put on a show for the fans, but that is a tough game to sit through. I’m not gonna lie.”