According to internal NBA data obtained exclusively by The Post, NBA owners are raking in more cash than they were before the pandemic by charging higher ticket prices – despite lower TV ratings and increasingly vacant seats in arenas.
According to data from this past season, the average “gate” or dollar from ticket sales per team increased 10.2% compared to the previous pre-pandemic season (2018-19), with fans now paying an average of $109 per ticket He is going. This is an increase of 18.6% since 2018-19 and almost double the rate of inflation.
However, the number of paid fans in arenas dropped 7.1% to 13,603 per game, also shows exclusive data. The Post calculated average ticket prices by dividing gate receipts by attendance paid.
The numbers are worse still for low-performing clubs, with some suffering home pay attendances dropping by more than 30%.
The troubling trend could spell problems for the NBA as it begins talks for its next lucrative TV contract, the current $2.66 billion annual deal with ABC/ESPN and Turner Sports that expires at the end of the 2024-25 season. Is.
The league generates about 70% of its revenue through media rights and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is reportedly seeking a new, nine-year deal that will pay $8 billion per year. National TV ratings were slightly lower this season as compared to 2018-19.
“I was wondering if this is the canary in the coal mine,” said a source advising NBA teams. “If I were silver, I would be on the teams with the biggest attendance telling them it was unacceptable.”
Locally, the Knicks average ticket price for low achievers rose to $185, a 14% increase since 2018-19 – despite the team failing to make the playoffs this year. Franchise’s paid attendance fell 4%.
Mo Dayakh, whose family has Knicks season tickets for six years, says he is coughing for a hike. But he says other season-ticket holders are planning to buy tickets next season for select games on the resale market instead.
“I think the prices are high, of course, and you struggle to get your money back on the secondary market,” confirms Christopher Porcelli, a season ticket holder since 2014.
Insiders have different theories on why attendance has plummeted. COVID concerns and vaccine requirements kept fans away from some arenas during the first half of the season, meanwhile teams have hiked ticket prices to make up for lost money. On top of the steep increase, some insiders have even speculated that fans were put off by the NBA’s embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In an interview with The Post, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said it’s impossible to know who played the biggest role.
“I don’t think you can draw any conclusions on a season affected by COVID,” Cuban told The Post. “We had customers… didn’t come because of the mandate. It was a different season which cannot be compared to anything.
The Mavs, who are tied 2-2 in tonight’s Game 5 of their best-of-seven series against Phoenix in the Western Conference semi-finals, saw their average gate climb 20%, and 3 in the number of tickets paid. % increased by. to data.
“Hopefully we will have a normal playoff, and next year,” Cuban said. “Then we’ll have a better feel for demand and pricing elasticity.”
The NBA also blamed Kovid for keeping fans away before the start of the playoffs.
“Overall attendance during the regular season was low due to the Omicron spike, but since April we have recorded a record attendance, including 59 consecutive selloffs during the playoffs,” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass.
According to data obtained by the Post, the Brooklyn Nets had the biggest increase with a 109% increase in average net gate. The Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers all posted increases of 40% or better.
Net’s Gate operated as its average ticket price rose to $144, a 66% increase. Longtime Nets season ticket holder Dennis Lin — who has just signed up for his 19th season, going back to the days of the Continental Airlines Arena — says his seats have doubled in price.
“I think it’s a little overkill. It’s not that I’m angry with Pitchfork,” Lynn told The Post. “That being said, there are a lot of season ticket holders who I know are angry. They either took a long time to consider renewing, or they’re definitely going half a season or simply not renewing. ,
While the Nets’ paid attendance also rose – 26% above pre-pandemic levels – it was driven by the fact that the team had no superstars in 2018-19, but added Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving the following June.
Accordingly, the Nets may have lost the most money in the NBA — more than $50 million this season — due to a massive increase in payroll.
“I know teams that have hiked ticket prices over the past two seasons to help them come out of the financial hole, while at the same time being committed to enhancing the fan experience, as well as a great deal for fans. said Rick Allen, CEO of Viewlift, a tech platform for engagement and streaming for sports teams.
Still, keeping up with the rise in prices can be difficult. Gates revenue increased in part because NBA fans had cabin fever and were eager to get out and watch the game, sources said. Unspent incentive checks also helped fans pay higher ticket prices.
Despite fan bases being flush with cash, 10 out of 30 teams saw a 15% or more drop in paid attendance. This includes the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Portland Trailblazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs. The New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets were both down 32%.
Of those 10, none still survived the second round of the playoffs, and seven of them completely missed the postseason. Many — like the Rockets, Trailblazers, Kings, Magic and Pacers — didn’t keep a competing product on the floor for most of the regular season.
“You are as strong as your weakest link,” said a source close to the NBA. “You can’t have about half a league with fans taking a big yawn.”
Average viewership dropped to 1.6 million on ABC, ESPN and TNT this season. In 2018-19, there were 1.99 million viewers on ABC and ESPN and 1.5 million on TNT.
Some have attributed the fall in eyeballs to the league’s embrace of the BLM movement in the wake of social unrest following the killing of George Floyd. The NBA painted “Black Lives Matter” on all courts in the league and allowed players to wear jerseys bearing the names of police shooting victims.
“Half the country says it’s not us,” said a source close to the NBA.
Other sports insiders believe that fans care more about their teams than politics. More socially liberal fans still watch the NFL, even though the league has arguably turned a blind eye to racial discrimination, and social conservatives would still like to see the gravity-defying dunk.
Fan darling Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors averaged a league-high $4.2 million at the gate — a 19% increase, according to internal data, with a new price tag. It also placed him above the second-place finisher of the Los Angeles Lakers, which made $3.1 million. But despite the new territory, Golden State’s paid presence is down 12%, data shows.
“They may have charged a little more,” said a source close to the NBA office, before warning that the data is not a harbinger of dark days for the league.
“I wouldn’t be concerned with these numbers,” said the source. “But I will take it seriously.”