David Stern is a marketing machine. The man is credited with adding seven franchises, the D-League, and the WNBA. For quite some time I considered Stern the best commissioner in sports, but the other day while I was reading a preview of Golden Stare on RotoEvil.com I came across this.
"The Thunder got shafted as far as nationally televised games go. They’ll have just 1 ESPN game and 0 TNT or ABC games, meaning that those of you who don’t purchase NBA TV or NBA League Pass (or live in Oklahoma) will only get to see them ONCE this season."
I read this, and the first thing I thought to myself is why? There will be 20 Spurs games yet only one Thunder game. Upon further research and a visit to Covers.com it came to my attention that the Thunder are actually doing good compared to some other franchises:
Other teams with one nationally televised game:
Indiana, Memphis, Toronto, Minnesota
Teams with zero nationally televised games:
Houston, Charlotte, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Sacramento
Here is my tip Mr. Stern, fans aren't always interested in the best teams. An exciting young team is just as fun to watch as a competitive one. Until the playoff race starts getting gritty Oklahoma, or Memphis would be a substitution that would be more entertaining then a defensive minded team like San Antonio.
What irks me the most about the fact that OKC aren't getting air time is not just that they will be an uptempo exciting team to watch. But that this team is acutally growing a fan base, handling PR the right way, and from what I understand, the atmosphere at Thunder games is great.
But, uneven NBA broadcast schedules aren't a new thing. So I guess it must be the NBA's 'Where Amazing Happening' marketing campaign that sets them apart. I have no real data regarding to this. The slogans are creative but unless you are a senior you probably won't appreciate the music as fitting.
But surely the NBA has high sports rankings when it is nationally covered? Well, no. For the past 20 years ('round about when Stern took over) NCAA Basketball has been receiving higher rankings then the NBA.
So, maybe the NBA aren't the marketing geniouses that we originally believed. The TV ratings are heading down, the WNBA is on the verge of failing, and the players seem to be disgruntled by the back-up officials.
Mr. Stern, your association does have many smart marketing moves. You've progressed the league in a number of ways since you began. But please reward the teams that are working to give the NBA a good image and are going to be the fast pace, exciting game which most fans would love to see more of.
Give National coverage to the little guy, it'll pay big dividends.