The NBA remains one of the most popular sports leagues in America and around the world. However, some have argued that the league is in decline and losing relevance. There are a few reasons this perception exists:
Ratings Decline - NBA ratings have dropped in recent years. The 2020 Finals saw a 49% decline versus 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a major role as games were held outside the normal season in empty arenas.
Load Management - Star players frequently rest for nationally televised games to stay fresh for the playoffs. Fans complain this cheats them out of seeing the best players on the biggest stages.
Predictability - The last decade has seen very little parity. The Warriors and Cavaliers met in the Finals four straight years from 2015-2018. The same few teams are serious contenders every season.
Politics - Some fans believe the NBA has become too political and outspoken on social issues. They would prefer the league stick to sports.
However, there are counterpoints that suggest the NBA remains very strong:
Revenue Growth - League revenue reached $8.8 billion in 2019 and continues to increase annually. Franchise values are also skyrocketing.
Global Popularity - The NBA is the most popular American sports league internationally. Merchandise sales and viewership overseas continue to expand.
Star Power - Players like LeBron James and Steph Curry are global icons. Younger stars like Luka Dončić and Zion Williamson are emerging.
Social Media - NBA content dominates social media. Highlights are endlessly consumed and debated on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
Betting - The legalization of sports gambling has increased fan engagement. NBA betting handle set records in 2022.
While ratings are a concern, the NBA remains very healthy overall. The league continues to innovate, tapping into new technologies and markets. As long as superstar players and teams drive interest, it's unlikely the NBA dies anytime soon.