In today’s NBA, superstars drive victories. And according to five-time All Star Kevin Love, they drive ratings, too.
“As far as ratings, I think it’s definitely a players-driven league,” Love, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, told Yahoo Finance recently.
He made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Serwer noted to Love that the NBA Finals’ ratings were down on average from years past, as this was the first year that LeBron James hadn’t competed in the NBA’s premier event since 2010. Serwer asked Love whether the league would always need superstars to keep up good ratings.
Love, who lamented injuries to the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson during the Finals, believes that the Association’s biggest stars drive ratings and profitability of the NBA, and that this is a good thing.
“Players run this league, I feel like, especially premier players,” Love said. “And that continues to—or needs to continue to trend in the right direction.”
This year’s NBA Finals was a six-game affair played between May 30 and June 13, with the Toronto Raptors ultimately besting the Golden State Warriors 4-2. The series did see a downturn in ratings, although the competitive games five and six helped to offset some of that negative trend. Games five and six had slightly more viewers than any game in the 2018 Finals, which lasted only four games and had an average of 17.56 million viewers per game.
The first four games of the 2019 Finals averaged 13.35 million viewers while the last two averaged 18.68 million viewers. In the last decade, game seven of the 2016 Finals had the highest viewership numbers, with 31.02 million tuning in to watch LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love overcome a 3-1 deficit to bring a championship to Cleveland. 2019 was the first time since 2010 that the Finals did not feature LeBron James.
Although Love’s Cavaliers sputtered to the second-worst record in the Association this year, he is no stranger to the big stage or to playing with superstars. He joined the Cavaliers before the 2014-2015 season and paired with LeBron as a physical presence down low. He’s won an NBA Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal and has averaged 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game over an 11-year career. Love, 30, came to the Yahoo Finance studios to talk business and his personal journey amid rumors that he may be on the move this offseason.
Calder McHugh is an Associate Editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @Calder_McHugh.