Denver/Orlando Finals: Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

by May 29, 2009

by Marcel Mutoni

The NBA is a League of stars. This we all understand fully. The question, for some, is whether or not it’s too much of a star-driven business.

And then we have the lunatic fringe, who pop out of the woodwork each spring and summer to decry the puppet masters who supposedly rig things so that the biggest stars always manage to meet on the biggest stage possible.

Reality, though, is that even if Kobe vs. LeBron doesn’t happen this year, folks on the business side of the League won’t be too upset. There’s still plenty of money to be made from the alternatives.

CNBC reports on what the conspiracy theorists ain’t trying to hear:

It’s one of the most popular conversations. How much will the NBA and ABC suffer if the ideal Finals matchup of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn’t pan out? Millions of dollars? Tens of millions? Actually, the answer is closer to no loss of money at all and that’s even if the worst case scenario of the Nuggets-Magic matchup comes to fruition.

Sure, Kobe and LeBron give the league and ABC the chance for a perfect storm, but it’s not only the stars that lead to ratings gold…In fact, a series between the Cavs and the Lakers that isn’t competitive and is a sweep might do worse than a series between the Magic and the Nuggets that is close and goes seven games, according to Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports, who runs his own television consultancy firm.

“The only people who pay attention to the ratings potential is the media,” Pilson said. “At this point, about 95 percent of the advertising has been sold and and the sponsors are there for the long haul. They understand that the numbers fluctuate from year to year.”

At the end of the day, the League is all about lining its pockets. And like any good business, it doesn’t have all of its eggs in one proverbial basket.