The Sports Business Journal, via an article by The Baseline’s Eric Freeman, is reporting that the ratings for this season’s All-Star Game fell off from last year. 6.9 million people watched this year’s All-Star Game, down from 7.6 million viewers in 2009. The decrease in viewers may have had something to do with the Vancouver Olympics; last time the All-Star Game went up against the Winter Olympics, it drew 7.1 million viewers.
The good news for the NBA is how many people watched the All-Star Game online. Over the course of All-Star Weekend, 13.8 million people used the on-demand video streams provided by NBA.com.That number is up 43% from last year, and 146% more people used NBA Mobile over the course of the weekend.
I used the stream that NBA.com provided during All-Star Saturday, and was absolutely stunned by the quality. The fact that it was a live event made it even more impressive. The NBA also made the choice to have the online stream show something other than just the broadcast. Online viewers only had to hear commercials, and got to see the players mulling around and talking with one another during timeouts. Online viewers also got to see Darryl Dawkins’ coat about a half an hour before it was unleashed on the general populous.
There were some occasional drawbacks. At one point during the skills competition, the camera I was using focused on Emmitt Smith’s head the entire time a player was running the course, watching his face for a reaction for at least two full minutes. After that, I switched to “Mosaic” mode, which was a little confusing but made me feel like Ozymandias.
Between the free All-Star game streams and League Pass Broadband, the NBA is clearly making an effort to change the way fans watch games. Judging by the numbers from All-Star Weekend, the plan seems to be working.