Already, though, they've made huge strides as a market, compared with just two seasons ago.
CSN Bay Area reports an 80 percent increase in average household rating for Warriors games this season compared to 2011-12 season.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) April 17, 2014
That's a lot more televisions tuning in to hear veteran color commentator Jim Barnett, who was supposed to retire at season's end but will reportedly remain on board for a limited number of telecasts.
According to CSNBayArea.com, the early results this season have also been an improvement over last season's viewership.
Through [the first] 48 games this season, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area is averaging a 3.15 household rating, which is equal to an estimated 79,411 households in the San Francisco DMA (San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose) watching per game, a 10 percent increase over the 2.86 average household rating posted at the end of the 2012-13 season.
The Warriors' home attendance also testifies to the team's growth in popularity. Besides a spike in attendance in 2008 (after the club upset the Dallas Mavericks as the No. 8 seed), the Warriors' numbers had taken a downturn until recently.
Here's a look at home attendance charted over the course of the last few years, with attendance numbers on the left (in the thousands).
So far, Joe Lacob's $450 million gamble is working out pretty well.
An ownership group led by Lacob purchased the team in 2010 and has seen home attendance grow ever since. The team's improvement under head coach Mark Jackson has also had a lot to do with it. Some of that improvement no doubt trickles down from the brass' win-now attitude.
Lacob had a lot to say on that front recently, according to Inside the Warriors' Diamond Leung:
I’m 58 years old now, and I’ve been successful. I’ve made a lot of money. I’ve done a lot of things I’ve wanted to do in life, but now we have this new venture, which is the Warriors. A second career, if you will, and all I can think about it is, we have to win a championship. I will be a failure. We will be a failure if we do not win the championship. So that’s what drives me. We promised a lot of people things. We brought in (president and chief operation officer) Rick Welts and all these people you might have met tonight that are tremendous at their jobs. They are incredible. They are so good, and we are all driven the same way. We are completely connected. We are focused. We are driven as a unit, as we. Because that’s really what it’s about. It’s not one person. It’s not me. It’s we. You get things done with other people. That’s how you succeed. And we are driven together to bring this thing home to the Bay Area.
That message seems to be resonating with fans. So does the final product.
The Warriors finished the season at 51-31, four wins better than a season ago, and 34 wins better than during the 2011-12 season. Keeping all the newfound fans around will likely require more postseason success. That's no given against the Los Angeles Clippers, who arguably feature two of the league's five best players in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Either way, the Warriors are clearly onto something. They're a young team that's still building in many respects. This is only its first season with swingman Andre Iguodala, for example, a pivotal defender who should keep the club in contention for seasons to come.
With more wise investments and steady play, Lacob just might not feel like a failure after all. A championship would do wonders for those TV ratings, too.