The Orlando Magic have struggled on the court and struggled on the tube. A new report says they have the lowest local TV ratings in the league.
Friday night, the Orlando Magic celebrated one of their original pioneers.
Broadcaster David Steele started with the franchise in that inaugural year as their radio broadcaster. Nine years later, he would move into the chair on the team’s local television broadcast and he has remained a staple there ever since.
Steele is respected around the league and the Magic consistently rate as one of the best local broadcasts.
Whether the team is winning or losing David Steele and Jeff Turner provide an entertaining broadcast that presents the game with a Magic tint, but a largely fair and balanced view. The broadcast does not give into histrionics that some local broadcasts do.
There is no denying the quality of the Magic’s broadcast. The quality of the team’s play has always remained a question in the last seven years.
But even with the team making strides and stepping into the Playoff race, the Magic are still struggling to get viewers for their local broadcasts. In fact, the entire NBA is.
John Ourand and John Lombardo of Sports Business Daily report local television ratings are down 10 percent on average and the Magic have the lowest ratings in the league, down 28 percent from last year. According to their report, the Magic draw a 0.44 rating for their broadcasts.
The fact the Magic are near the bottom of the league in local television ratings is no surprise. It has been that way for several years now, and last year they had the second-lowest in the league. TV ratings spiked a bit during the early part of the 2016 season when the team got off to a hot start and were in the Playoff conversation early in the season, only to fade later.
Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins has told reporters in the past that he is not concerned with declining TV ratings as they usually track with winning — the Dallas Mavericks, for example, have the highest increase which is certainly attributable to Luka Doncic‘s arrival.
The Magic got off to a slow start this season. And so it is entirely possible fans tuned out the Magic and they may just be coming around to watching them as the team gears up for a Playoff chase.
Time will tell if the Magic’s numbers recover. Certainly, the team’s need to get some star power to attract eyeballs is also a factor here too.
But there are certainly other factors involved as TV rating are down across the league.
Television ratings for major network shows are down more and more as viewers go to other options to get their television — whether it is cutting the cord completely or moving to streaming services like Hulu or YouTube’s live television services.
It is not clear whether the ratings the Sports Business Daily cites includes online viewership through NBA League Pass apps or those streaming services.
That probably will not account for the severe drop in ratings the Magic’s broadcast is experiencing, but it is certainly part of the equation.
If anything, the news has inspired Magic fans from outside the market to showcase their fandom. Fan account The Lando challenged followers to take a picture of their viewing habits in the #MagicTVChallenge.
The hashtag was trending in Orlando late Friday and early Saturday. The hashtag itself generated a lot of conversation and a lot of photos of fans showing off their Magic viewing habits. There are certainly plenty of Magic fans out there watching around the world.
The Magic as a business entity is still fairly healthy. They have the entertainment complex development still in the works across the street from Amway Center. Construction on that should begin in the offseason.
Attendance at the Amway Center so far is 17,378, 18th in the league and roughly 92.2 percent of stadium capacity. Last year, the team averaged 17,893, 17th in the league. So announced attendance at the Amway Center is slightly down but not significantly down.
With meaningful games coming up at the Amway Center through the end of the year — and the Golden State Warriors in town on Thursday for a probable sell out — the team should see interest spike.
Ultimately, television ratings, attendance and interest in the team will increase as the team continues to win. That is why it is still so important for the Magic to compete for a Playoff spot as much as it is important for internal player development.
More than anything, the Magic have to continue generating interest.