Last season marked the first time in 15 years that LeBron James didn’t play in the Eastern Conference and, coincidentally, the first time he didn’t play in Eastern Time Zone. While that might not have affected Lakers fans on the west coast, it forced Lakers fans on the east coast to often stay up past 1 a.m. to watch their team play.
Unsurprisingly, most people were unwilling to do that, particularly non-Lakers fans that just wanted to watch a good basketball game. As a result, the NBA’s ratings took a hit, dropping four percent league-wide and as much as 15 percent on national television networks like TNT.
This season, with James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles, the NBA made a conscious effort to have fewer games in the 10:30 ET slot:
Sources: Earlier times for national TV doubleheaders this season: 22 of ESPN’s 36 doubleheaders and 12 of TNT’s 31 doubleheaders to start at 7:30/10 PM ET or 7/9:30 PM ET instead of 8/10:30 PM.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 12, 2019
Sources: The NBA has reduced number of LA Lakers games with 10:30 pm ET start time from 19 to 10. The Warriors were reduced from 18 to 11.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 12, 2019
Overall, the league cut back on “late games” from 56 last year to 33 this year. Some might see that as a lot of maneuvering for a select group of NBA fans, but it really is just a testament to how much talent there will be in the Western Conference next season—specifically California.
Not only will James and Davis be in Los Angeles next season, but Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will, too. That’s not mention the teams up north like the Golden State Warriors, who added All-Star D’Angelo Russell to their superstar trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and the up-and-coming Sacramento Kings.
It’s a small change, but one that will benefit Lakers and basketball fans alike in the U.S., which is a good enough reason to do it.
Additionally, the effects of L.A. nightlife might hit harder at 6:30 p.m. Just saying.