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NBA ratings: How many people watched the 2023 NBA All-Star?

With ratings now in, there will likely be some head scratching in the NBA’s offices as they try to figure out why nobody wants to watch the All-Star Game.

With ratings now in, there will likely be some head scratching in the NBA’s offices as they try to figure out why nobody wants to watch the All-Star Game.
Kyle TeradaUSA TODAY Sports

Ahead of this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend it was clear that the league was very aware of a decrease of interest in the annual event in recent years. Indeed, with a number of cosmetic changes to the format, as well as the inclusion of some interesting rules and tweaks, there was a definite effort to garner more attention. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it worked.

2023 NBA All-Star Game sees record low ratings

With the ratings for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game now in, we can tell you with confidence that it was not a good weekend on the whole for the league. According to figures published by Sports Media Watch, Sunday night’s game - broadcasted on both TNT and TBS - averaged a combined 2.2 rating and 4.59 million viewers. To be clear, that is a significant drop from the 2022 edition of the game, which averaged a 3.1 rating - a previous record low - and 6.28 million viewers. To make that simple, 2023′s ratings dropped 29% from 2022, and viewership dropped 27%. This, after an already concerning decline had been witnessed last year.

To put that in perspective, that is the largest single-season decline for the All-Star Game since 2000, which was the first one following the 1998-1999 lockout. Adding further weight to the notion that the NBA is slipping, is the fact that this year’s game drew less viewers than the 2022 MLB All-Star Game which saw 7.51 million and the NFL’s new Pro Bowl Games that garnered 6.28 million.

Was the All-Star Game itself any good?

In truth, not really. As has become the way in recent years, the major stars we’re hoping to see are either hurt or leave the game early. That was no different on Sunday night where Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo were concerned. To be fair, one can’t expect anything more from a game that is played midseason and quite literally counts for nothing. It would be unrealistic to expect a truly competitive showing from players who are eyeing the second half of their respective campaigns. Take James for example, who actually hurt himself in the first half trying to play defense too intensely. Consequently, he didn’t play the second.

Ultimately, Sunday’s game saw a languid performance from a group of high-profile players who were giving about 60% of themselves, if that. Team Giannis emerged victorious over Team LeBron with a flattering score of 184-175, but it didn’t stop Nuggets head coach Michael Malone - Team LeBron’s coach for the night - from giving his honest opinion saying it was “the worst basketball game ever played.” We should mention, that he did give credit to Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving - the two who seemingly gave a little extra on the night.

So, NBA All-Star Weekend was completely awful?

More or less. Aside from Sunday night’s “climax,” there was of course Friday night’s Rising Star Challenge which registered just 888,000 viewers, which isn’t good when compared with the already bad 1.23 million from last year. Where Saturday night was concerned, we had the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest and the ever-popular Dunk Contest, which was perhaps the one bright spark of the entire weekend. Yet, despite the best efforts of eventual winner, Mac McClung, Saturday still saw its viewership drop from a 2.0 share and 4.24 million viewers last year, to 1.6 share and 3.42 million viewers on TNT. Strangely, the one slight increase was noticed in the celebrity game, which saw a slight bump from 1.23 million last year to 1.40 million this year on ESPN. While it’s clear that interest in basketball isn’t on the decline, the format and structure of the All-Star Weekend clearly is. The question is, what will the league do about it?