The NBA has decided to make a significant change to tip-off times for their nationally televised games on ESPN and ABC, as the league will now have the second game of the back-to-back begin as soon as 9:30 p.m., according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
The 2019-2020 season’s ESPN coverage will feature 22 out of 36 games beginning at 7 or 7:30 p.m. while ABC will air 12 out of 31 games with the earlier schedule. (RELATED: NBA Ratings Continue To Plummet, Broadcasts Are Down 18 Percent On TNT)
Previously, the league has had their back-to-backs start at 8 p.m. with the second game not beginning until 10:30 p.m. This left many east coast fans unable to view the full second game because of the late start time. For years, NBA fans have complained about the late second start and it seems that the league has listened.
Sources: Earlier times for national TV doubleheaders this season: 22 of ESPN’s 36 doubleheaders and 12 of TNT’s 31 doubleheaders to start at 7:30/10 PM ET or 7/9:30 PM ET instead of 8/10:30 PM.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 12, 2019
There is nothing worse than waking up the next morning and seeing that you missed a phenomenal ending to the second game because it started too late. Now with the early start, more people will want to tune in for the full game without sacrificing sleep.
This is much needed for the NBA as they went through spurts in (in)action last season where viewership was really struggling. We have seen NBA commissioner Adam Silver even hint that he is aware that viewership has taken a hit as he has lobbied for a possible in-season tournament to spice up the action.
The NBA had to do something and this is a clear step in the right direction. With more people able to view the usually-late Western Conference games, it not only will increase viewership, but it allows people to watch players they are usually not accustomed to seeing because of the time differences.
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I still don’t understand why college sports have yet to implement similar changes. Both national championship games in basketball and football reach into the overnight, very early morning hours and are hard to stay up for.
I am sure this will be a major win for the NBA, and I expect more changes to make their way into the league very shortly. Adam Silver is very active when it comes to making sure the league gets as much revenue as possible, and I don’t think he’s afraid of the criticism.