The San Antonio Spurs might still be figuring things out, but their fans are still showing their loyalty.
While the AT&T Center hasn't been nearly as crowded as it's been in the past, fans of the Silver and Black are still tuning in to see their rebuilding squad compete nightly. In their latest analysis of the local NBA TV ratings during the All-Star break, Sports Business Journal had the Spurs in the top 10.
Ahead of larger markets like the Los Angeles Lakers (1.84), New York Knicks (1.43), and Miami Heat (1.88), the Spurs' 2.29 rating is seventh in the league through February 16th.
As the article goes on to explain, the Spurs' local ratings have been declining for four years running, although a majority of the league has had similar drops in recent years. Seeing them still in the top seven despite their subpar season of rebuilding is extremely encouraging for the future.
When you consider the Spurs are likely to get a top tier talent in the 2022 NBA Draft and could even sign a potential big name with their abundance of cap space, next season seems like it could be a turning point in terms of audience interest.
As anyone who ends up in San Antonio quickly learns, the entire city adopts you as family once you're signed with the Spurs, and that could go a long way in recruiting. Dejounte Murray's All-Star status also shouldn't hurt either.
The Biggest problem with ratings isn't the team itself
While San Antonio still boasts an impressive local TV rating in comparison to most teams, there's no doubt it would be much better if games were more readily available. Currently, most games air on Bally Sports Southwest, which is only available on two pricey streaming TV options: AT&T TV ($84.99) and DirecTV Stream ($89.99)
As a cord-cutter for a few years now, I have to find other means to catch local games, and there are thousands like me around the city facing the same problem. Even as an NBA League Pass subscriber, all local games are blacked out for me.
Late last year, Mark Cuban worked with DirecTV to offer Dallas fans a reduced price for their package that includes Bally Sports Southwest. While that's a step in the right direction, there needs to be a better solution to the problem that has been ongoing for a couple of seasons now.
If Bally Sports Southwest is able to reach an agreement with an option like YouTubeTV or Hulu + Live TV, that should go a long way toward increasing what should already be better ratings next season. Until then, they're only hurting themselves and the Spurs.
Still, the fact that many local fans are finding a way to catch their guys despite limited options and inconsistent play shows the city's loyalty once again. That's a nice feather in the cap of the organization going forward.