January 27, 2020 Real Estate Publication

NBA should trim schedule to 68 games, says Washington University sports business director

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media after the Board of Governors meetings on July 12, 2016 at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

David Dow | NBAE | Getty Images

The proposed changes to the National Basketball Association’s 82-game regular-season schedule is receiving mixed reaction, with some believing the league isn’t cutting enough games.

In an interview with CNBC, Dr. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, said the NBA should go beyond cutting to the proposed 78 games, with the belief 68 contests could help the NBA’s current ratings and load management issues.

“One of the reasons NFL ratings are so high is because of their scarcity,” Rishe said. “Yes, you’re going to have to make up revenue somewhere, and it probably will be made up of higher media rights, higher ticket prices, high corporate partnership rates. But I believe the ratings per game would be higher, and it will help you justify higher rights fees; justify higher partnership rates because there will be more scarcity.”

ESPN first reported the NBA floated the idea to reduce its regular season to 78 games, including an in-season tournament, and possibly reseed the top four teams remaining in the playoffs regardless of conference, according to reports. That scenario would also allow an East vs. West conference final, or a same-conference NBA Finals.

“I applaud the effort,” Philadelphia 76ers Sixers forward Al Horford said. “I don’t know if it’s going to fly.”

As part of the change, adding play-in rounds for seeds 7-10 in each conference before the postseason commences is also being considered. The 7th and 8th seed would play a game for ownership of the 7th-seed slot, and the loser of the game would play the winner of the 9th and 10th seed play-in game. The winner of this game claims the final postseason spot.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum said the schedule change is “intriguing.” But McCollum also raised additional questions surrounding the Basketball Related Income split, as some teams could play more than 78 games with the addition of play-in games.

When asked his thoughts on the changes, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, said he believes the current schedule format still “works,” and no changes are needed to the playoff format, either.

“I’d vote against it,” Walton said. “I like the schedule how it is.”

Around NBA circles, the belief is the league factored in trimming the schedule due to a decline in viewership. Earlier this week, Sports Business Journal reported ratings on TNT were down 22%, while ESPN’s NBA ratings dropped to 19%.

Asked about the decline at SBJ’s Dealmakers in Sports conference in New York, NBA commissioner Adam Silver pointed to a “broken” cable television model, saying the league’s young viewers “are tuning out traditional cable.”

Rishe said cutting games could be risky as there is no guarantee ratings or fees would increase with fewer games. But he added the demand for games would increase, and if the league remains popular among sports fans, revenue may not be affected that much.

“It is kind of a bet,” Rishe said. “You’re betting that if you do shrink the season by a certain amount, that you’re not going to adversely affect overall revenues. And once you start talking about adversely affecting overall revenues, it’s not only going to rock the apple cart in New York; it’s also going to rock the apple cart with the players union.”

Not all are skeptical about the idea of trimming the schedule and adding a tournament-style format.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who coached at Butler University to two Final Fours before coming to the NBA, applauded the league for at least taking a look at ways to improve the schedule instead of staying “status quo because it’s status quo. We have to continue to look at what’s best for the game, what’s best for the players. … I appreciate the leadership in that league.

“If it’s 78 or an in-season tournament, you play 81 or 83, you’re really not changing the number of games,” Stevens added. “But you certainly are at least looking at things that will continue to make it exciting for people and will continue to provide the entertainment value that it is.

“I think it provides an exciting new thing,” Stevens concluded. “I don’t think we should avoid those things.”

Related Posts

Coronavirus prompts automakers to evacuate workers, weigh production delays at Chinese factories

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Laborers work in the Qingdao branch of SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile in Qingdao, China. STR | AFP | Getty Images Automakers are...

Boeing secures more than $12 billion in financing to help weather 737 Max crisis

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, along with one Boeing 787 at top, are parked at Grant County International Airport October 23,...

Oil tumbles into bear market, hits more than 3-month low on fears coronavirus will slow global growth

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

A staff member checks the temperature of a guest entering the casino of the New Orient Landmark hotel in Macau...

Coronavirus fears send stocks lower—what Cramer and other Wall Street pros are watching

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Fears around China’s coronavirus outbreak are in full force. The concern put meaningful pressure on the major averages Monday, sending...

High-speed traders cost regular investors almost $5 billion a year, study says

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Getty Images Traders and hedge funds who use...

The stock market is starting to worry about Bernie Sanders

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

2020 Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on March...

Bath & Body Works’ owner could see sales of hand sanitizer and soap rise as deadly coronavirus spreads

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Roberto Machado Noa | LightRocket | Getty Images Bath & Body Works owner L Brands could be poised to benefit...

US companies suspend China operations, restrict travel as coronavirus outbreak spreads

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

A militia member checks the body temperature of a driver on a vehicle at an expressway toll gate in Wuhan...

Fugitive ex-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn warns foreign CEOs in Japan: ‘You’re playing with your life’

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Three weeks after he escaped from Japan, former Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn is relishing his newfound freedom and...

China coronavirus death toll climbs to 82 with at least 2,900 cases worldwide

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

A novel coronavirus has now taken the lives of at least 82 people in China and sickened at least 2,900...

Coronavirus shutters restaurants in China, sending shares of Luckin, Starbucks lower

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Wary of the coronavirus, crowds of people wear surgical masks. In light of a deadly virus outbreak in China, Hong...

CDC is monitoring 110 possible coronavirus cases across 26 states in US

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

U.S. health officials are currently monitoring 110 people across 26 states for the coronavirus, including the five patients who contracted...

Athletes pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. Michael Jordan says: ‘He was like a little brother to me’

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Washington Wizards in the first half at Verizon...

Here’s why the stock market may be overreacting to the coronavirus threat

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

The continued spread of the coronavirus appears to be hitting global markets like a similar outbreak in 2003, but the...

Cramer on sell-off: ‘This is the panic people have been waiting for,’ but don’t buy stocks yet

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Jim Cramer Scott Mlyn | CNBC Investors who were waiting for the market to sink so they could buy stocks...