Despite occasionally struggling through a difficult first-half schedule, the Utah Jazz continue to be appointment television for fans.
Turns out the Utah Jazz have something in common with Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica and Chandler. Oh, wait — am I dating myself? How about Sheldon, Leonard and Penny? Sheriff Rick and an armless, oozing corpse on the prowl for brains, perhaps?
What I’m getting at here is that in spite of some struggles through the first several months of the 2018-19 season, the Jazz are still must-see TV for the blue, green and gold faithful.
Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal dropped a feature on Monday examining television ratings from around the league. In a word, viewership at both the local and national levels has been suboptimal. However, it’s been a different story entirely in Jazzland.
Per SBJ, 13 of 28 teams from around the Association (data was not available for the Memphis Grizzlies or Toronto Raptors) have seen a ratings decline. And thanks to big-time drops in major media markets like New York and Chicago, where the Knicks and Bulls are down 36 and 41 percent, respectively, the league is down double digits overall.
Meanwhile, the Jazz are still appointment television. Their ratings are up 58 percent over last season with a 6.30 average rating on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. The latter number is virtually tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for second in the NBA and trails only the Golden State Warriors, who are putting up a 7.43 share on NBC Sports Bay Area.
Not bad for a squad that had a losing record through most of the early season. That said, ratings success is nothing new in Jazzland, and not just at the local level, either.
The Jazz’s highest-profile game this season, a Christmas Day bout with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, drew a 1.5 metered market rating for ESPN. That number was up 36 percent over last season’s game in the same time slot and made it the highest-rated Christmas game in the late window since 2015.
Also — the Jazz’s 4.9 average rating last season put them in the top five league-wide and was a big-time improvement over 2016-17.
Here’s one more for you: the highest-rated/most-watched NBA Finals is still the ’98 Finals between the Jazz and the Bulls, which averaged more than 29 million viewers nationally on NBC. Some fellow named Michael may have had something to do with that, but Jazz fans should take the win nonetheless.
Look for the team’s ratings to continue to grow this season as playoff time approaches. With an exciting young star in Donovan Mitchell and a defensive stalwart in Rudy Gobert leading the team in a competitive race for positioning — and not much else going on in the Salt Lake City sports scene through late spring — interest will inevitably see another uptick.
So, too, will the Jazz’s television revenues when they negotiate a new deal in 2021.