Milwaukee Bucks are One of 12 Teams Snubbed by TV Coverage of the NBA

12 of the NBA’s 30 teams, including Milwaukee, will have two or fewer appearances on the NBA’s top three television partners: ABC, ESPN, and TNT.  On the other hand, seven franchises (BOS, LAL, CHI, MIA, NYK, DAL, OKC) will have 20 or more such broadcasts.  Unsurprisingly, the league included those same seven franchises in its marquee slate of nationally-televised games on Opening Day/Christmas Day.

(To be honest, you probably didn’t need me to name those seven for you, did you?)

The NBA also broadcasts some of its games on NBA TV, but those games reach a far smaller audience than the ones shown on ABC, ESPN, and TNT.

Here are the numbers of national television appearances for each of the NBA’s 30 teams sorted from greatest to least.  The number in parentheses indicates the number of TV appearances with the NBA TV games excluded.

Boston Celtics: 31 (24)
LA Lakers: 29 (25)
Chicago: 29 (23), [plus 20 more on WGN America]
Miami: 27 (25)
New York: 27 (22)
Dallas: 26 (20)
Oklahoma City: 24 (17)
Orlando: 24 (16)
LA Clippers: 23 (14)
Portland: 18 (11)
Golden State: 17 (10)
Phoenix: 16 (11)
San Antonio: 14 (10)
Denver: 14 (9)
Atlanta Hawks: 13 (8)
Utah: 12 (8)
Memphis: 10 (5)
Philadelphia: 9 (6)
New Orleans: 9 (2)
Sacramento: 9 (1)
Houston: 7 (0)
Minnesota: 6 (2)
Washington: 6 (0)
Milwaukee: 5 (1)
Charlotte: 4 (1)
New Jersey: 4 (0)
Indiana: 4 (0)
Detroit: 2 (1)
Toronto: 1 (0)
Cleveland: 1 (0)

Maybe Bucks fans should be grateful for the lone ESPN game against the Pistons. John Wall and the Wizards didn’t even merit a single major network appearance, despite the fact that he was the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and a marketable future star.  In total, six teams were shut out of the big three broadcasts.

A lot of attention since the schedule’s release has been given to the imbalances and chaos of the lockout-compressed calendar.  But every team in the NBA is playing 66 games in 123 days, with 33 at home and 33 on the road.  The real imbalance, the one that prolonged the lockout, is this dichotomy between the marquee franchises and the teams buried by TV and the league.

When the premier free agents of the league pick cities, they will likely look past the bottom of this list.  They know that — all things being equal, including salary — endorsement money is greener elsewhere.  The confusing part is that the NBA prolonged the lockout under the guise of trying to fix the league’s competitive balance issue. Then, as soon as the lockout was lifted, they resumed their imbalanced methods.  It’s hypocrisy in its purest form.

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