ABC averaged 2.95 million viewers for the 19-20 season compared to 5.42 million for the 11-12 lockout-shortened season, representing a decline of 45 percent.
TNT’s average NBA viewership is down over 40 percent since 2011-2012 and ESPN is down roughly 20 percent over that span.
The 2019 playoffs saw a double digit decrease in viewership.
For the NBA's restart so far, ratings have been lower than the pre-pandemic averages.
Other sports have held steady since 2012. The NFL went from a 16.6 million-person average on nationally televised games to 16.5 million. The MLB averaged 2.5 million viewers on network TV in 2012 compared to 2.4 million in 2019.
The American national TV contract, worth $2.66 billion per year, is the NBA’s largest revenue stream. It also will soon be up for an extension and it is not yet known how its current ratings declines will impact those negotiations.