Nets Are Edging Knicks in TV Ratings Thanks to James Harden: Report

James Harden

Getty James Harden dribbles during the second half against of Brooklyn's game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Barclays Center on February 2.

With three of the game’s brightest stars now on their roster, the Brooklyn Nets — not the Knicks — have become New York’s must-watch team.

Since James Harden debuted for Brooklyn on January 16, the Nets on YES Network are outperforming the Knicks on MSG Network in viewership in the New York market, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, who cited industry sources.

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The Harden Effect

The Nets traded for Harden on January 13, adding the perennial All-Star to a roster that includes two other future Hall of Famers in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets’ TV viewership has surged accordingly. More from Berman:

In their eight games on YES, the Nets are leading the Knicks by an average of 10 percent. The numbers factor in MSG Network and its spillover channel MSG Plus.

The Nets, since Harden’s first game, are averaging 122,000 viewers per game to the Knicks’ 111,000 viewers, based on Nielsen ratings, according to sources.

A recent West Coast trip for the Knicks could have worked against them in the TV Ratings, as Berman pointed out. The Knicks played four of their nine games since January 16 on the West Coast, meaning later start times for those games. Losing also hasn’t helped: the Knicks are 4-5 in those nine games, while the Nets are 7-3 since trading for Harden.

Unlike the Nets, the Knicks roster is star-less; Julius Randle is making a push for an All-Star appearance, but even he is nowhere near the superstar status of Brooklyn’s Big Three.

In breaking down viewership demographics, it’s been a clean sweep for the Nets in the Harden era. Per Berman, the Nets have narrow leads in ages 18-34 (25,000 vs. 20,000), 18-49 (56,000 vs. 53,000) and 25-54 (61,000 vs. 60,000).

More attention on the Nets has directly impacted Knicks’ average viewership, which has dropped 13 percent since Harden’s arrival, according to Berman.

Berman notes that “in some ways, it’s surprising the numbers are even that close but it’s well-chronicled the Knicks’ fan base has been considered larger. The Knicks, who have lost five of six, are 9-13 while the Nets hold a 14-9 record – second place in the East.”


Must-See TV

Harden has a whopping four triple-doubles since joining the Nets. In nine games for Brooklyn, he’s averagin 24.1 points, 12.0 assists and 8.1 rebounds. And Durant and Irving are taking full advantage of Harden’s presence: Durant is averaging 32.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists since Harden’s arrival, and Irving is averaging 29.4 points, 5.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds.

During Brooklyn’s 124-120 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless tweeted, “You are watching an NBA Finals preview.” A few moments earlier, he tweeted, “I could watch these teams play every night.”

The NBA’s communications department said the Nets’ Big Three debut together on January 20 against the Cleveland Cavaliers was NBA League Pass’ most-viewed game in the United States and fourth most-viewed game across the globe this season, per Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News.

Additionally, YES announced on January 21 that Brooklyn’s loss to the Cavs on January 20 was the most-viewed Nets telecast on YES since December 8, 2014. That game in 2014 averaged 179,000 viewers, and the January 20 game averaged 159,000 and peaked at 242,000.

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