It’s no secret that when it comes to the NBA playoffs, there is a hierarchy among the networks that broadcast the games.
ABC is at the top of that hierarchy as it gets the NBA Finals.
ESPN and TNT are on the second level and share the Conference Finals and the best games from the first two rounds.
At the bottom is clearly NBA TV, which usually features teams from small markets like Milwaukee or San Antonio.
Despite the fact that the Bucks are the No. 1 seed in the East and have an MVP favorite in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the team was relegated to NBA TV on Wednesday night.
TNT host Charles Barkley stated the obvious about the league’s official network Wednesday.
When co-host Kenny Smith asked, “What’s wrong with NBA TV?” Barkley answered, “That’s where we put the games that we don’t care about. How many times has LeBron played on NBA TV?”
Charles Barkley on NBA TV “That’s where we put the games we don’t care about” pic.twitter.com/ldXFJBY1p1
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 17, 2019
The ratings back up Barkley’s stance.
On Tuesday, there were three NBA playoff games — two were on TNT and one was on NBA TV.
The Oklahoma City Thunder-Portland Trail Blazers Game 2 on TNT had 2.59 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch, while the Orlando Magic-Toronto Raptors Game 2, also on TNT, had 2.24 million viewers.
The lone NBA TV game, featuring the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets, drew just 422,000 viewers.
A big part of that is the difference in the number of households in which the networks are available, as roughly 45 million households have NBA TV compared with 89 million for TNT.
But another big part is fan interest, which goes to Barkley’s point and his astute observation that LeBron James has never had a playoff game on NBA TV.
Speaking of LeBron, Barkley wants the Los Angeles Lakers star to appear on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” Earlier this week he made a plea to James to have him come on set since he has nothing else to do with the Lakers missing the playoffs.
Charles Barkley gives a passionate plea to Lebron James pic.twitter.com/UB1aNgY9uw
— Heart of NBA (@HeartofNBA) April 15, 2019
“I’ve said this before, America, and this is the last time,” Barkley said. “LeBron James, come on into the studio. You ain’t got nothing to do. The playoffs started yesterday and you’ve got free time.
“I know you’ve got to pick a coach and a general manager. Just put that on the backburner. … You don’t even have to stay. You can leave at halftime of the second game.”
James responded on Twitter, “Sir Charles, I actually do have a ton going on but I may take you up on your offer. We shall see. #KingInStudio”
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