Orlando Magic see massive local TV ratings increase during playoff push

Nikola Vucevic has faced criticism his entire Orlando Magic career while quietly building an impressive resume. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic has faced criticism his entire Orlando Magic career while quietly building an impressive resume. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic’s local TV ratings were hurting at the All-Star Break. They ended the season with a surge of attention as winning solves all.

At the All-Star Break, the Sports Business Journal reported the Orlando Magic had the worst television ratings in the league.

With how much the team was struggling at the time — and the team’s relatively small market (still 20th in the nation, though) — it was not surprising. Nothing tracks with winning more than local TV ratings. People will only sit and watch the games each night if there are stakes.

Out of this news, Magic fans started to galvanize. They were determined to prove, at the very least, the Magic did not have the lowest ratings in the league. The #MagicTVChallenge was born and fans showed off their Magic viewing habits.

But something funny happened after that point. The Magic started winning. And the game started to have real stakes.

There was not merely a hashtag of a ragtag group of fans watching this team play. It started to build among the entire fan base. The Magic fan base was re-engaged.

Now there are the numbers to back this up.

At the All-Star Break, John Ourand and John Lombardo of the Sports Business Journal reported the Magic had the league’s worst TV ratings, averaging a 0.44 rating and a 28 percent decrease from last year.

At the end of the regular season, the Magic were still near the bottom of the league (second-worst) but they report the Magic’s local TV ratings made some serious gains to end the season.

According to Ourand and Lombardo, the Magic finished the season with a 0.51 rating. That turns out to be a four percent increase from last year.

Considering the Magic played most of their games before the All-Star Break when those first numbers came out, seeing the average rating increase that much and become a net positive is quite the accomplishment.

This is what winning does. Magic CEO Alex Martins has said previously when asked about the team’s local TV ratings that it will track with the team’s record. Orlando’s 22-9 finish to the season brought fans to the games on TV and got them along for the ride.

The energy in the runup to the playoffs was palpable. Fans flocked to the Amway Center for games to end the season and for the playoffs. They flocked to the watch parties during the playoffs.

On TV, FOX Sports Florida reported massive viewership for several key games in the Magic’s playoff run.

The game against the Miami Heat that clinched the season series and put the Orlando Magic in the playoff pole position for good was the most-watched game on FOX Sports Florida in three years.

That was a big game. There was a lot of hype for that game as the Magic and the Heat were battling for the playoff spot and this was a rivalry game. And the Magic delivered.

They came back from 17 points down to win the game running away. It was a cathartic moment for fans everywhere (as much as the team). And fans were along for the ride.

Fans were glued to the television to watch the Magic in these big games.

Their playoff-clinching win over the Boston Celtics did not reach those heights but was also pretty big. These were the two biggest games of the year and Magic fans showed up.

The Magic certainly still have a long way to go. Their late-season run caught fans’ attention and they tuned in. That will likely buy them some currency moving into next season. It seems very possible the Magic’s opening game is going to draw a huge rating too.

The bottom line, and the season proved this, winning was the ultimate way to increase TV ratings and generate interest. That hypothesis appears to be correct.

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It is safe to say with these numbers and how quickly the Magic saw their TV ratings jump proved the #MagicTVChallenge was a big success.