The NBA on ABC is back, and the Saturday showcase continues to be a great tradition for basketball and its fans.
Now that the NFL season is in its home stretch with playoff games only being played on Sunday, the NBA has moved into ABC’s Saturday 8 p.m. slot. And headlining the first showcase of the year are two firecracker games you won’t want to miss with the Cavaliers playing the Thunder (3:30 p.m. ET) and Warriors playing the Rockets (8:30 p.m. ET).
Wait. Basketball on Saturdays?
You probably remember Sunday afternoon basketball on ABC — and NBC before then. That’s because from the 2009-2010 season through 2015, the NBA on ABC aired strictly on Sundays. Before that, from 1990-2002, the NBA aired on Sunday on NBC, and from 1973-1990, CBS aired NBA Sundays. The whole Saturday thing is pretty new!
Beginning with the 2015-16 season — specifically a Jan. 23, 2016 Bulls victory over the Cavaliers — ABC brought primetime basketball to Saturdays. And this season will continue with half the ABC schedule running Saturday night games, while the other half will remain on Sundays. Weekend hoops galore!
What have NBA Saturdays given us before?
Last season, the NBA found a home on Saturday. There were nine NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC games, including Kevin Durant’s first game back in Oklahoma City as a member of the Warriors.
In total, 17 games have been played on ABC Saturdays in two seasons.
One of the series’ most memorable moments may have been Steph Curry’s 40-footer in 2016.
What are we getting this year?
Kicking off NBA Primetime Saturday is a fire double-header of Thunder at Cavs (yes, that’s Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Paul George vs. LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade) and Warriors at Rockets. But it doesn’t stop there. Just take a look at the rest of the schedule this year:
All games at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Jan. 27: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors
Feb. 3: Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers
Feb. 10: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors
Feb. 24: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
Mar. 3: Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets
Mar. 10: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder
Apr. 7: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets
How have the ratings been?
NBA Saturday Showcase viewership numbers spiked then plummeted, much like a cryptocurrency investment.
According to ESPN Media Zone, NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC averaged 3.466 million viewers and a 2.1 U.S. household rating in the 2015-16 season, beating all of its peers in the male and people demographic. The NBA on ABC dropped down to an all-time low last season, though, according to Sports Media Watch, with the Saturday Showcase dropping 14 percent in ratings (1.9) and 14 percent in viewership (2.9 million).
A number of last year’s games were duds, which hurt ratings, but we wouldn’t anticipate that happening again.
Why you should be excited
Congrats to us all on having reason to skip plans and stay tucked away on the couch under six blankets with chips and salsa within arm’s reach. We’ve got nationally televised games to watch and tweet about!
Every single Saturday night on the schedule involves two teams gunning for it all, meaning we get to see Curry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Saturday nights are our playoff preview nights.
Let’s do this.