Yesterday we saw that attendance in the NBA is down for the second straight year. This is peculiar because the NBA’s television ratings are actually up. Way up. And not just for LeBron and his Merry Men in Miami. According to the NBA, TV ratings for games on ESPN and TNT are up more than 30% compared to last season.
So if interest in the NBA is up, then why is attendance down again?
We also saw yesterday that attendance in the NHL is also down for the second straight year. That’s curious, but two years worth of data could simply be a coincidence. But look at how similar the average attendance in the NBA and the NHL has been recently…
For the fourth straight season, the average attendance in the NBA and the NHL is within 100 of each other. And it doesn’t matter if attendance is going up, as it did for both in 2008-09, or going down as it did each of the last two seasons.
If we graph these attendance figures, the similarities are even more stark…
This pattern suggests that attendance in the NBA and the NHL is under the same influences and that it doesn’t matter how popular one league is or how much buzz is surrounding the other.
Is it the economy? Maybe. Consumer spending is up slightly over the last two years. But that hasn’t translated into ticket sales for the secondary major sports in the US. Unemployment is up each of the last two years. But it also went up in 2008 and yet both leagues showed an increase in attendance that year.
Whatever the factor, the similar patterns seen in the NBA and the NHL suggest that the number of fans attending games is largely being driven by outside influences and no matter what the leagues do, it might not matter in the long run.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.