The Sixers have yet to turn the corner with their rebuilding plan, but the diehards keep tuning in to watch. According to a report from Sports Business Daily, the Sixers have the fifth-lowest rating in the NBA despite audience levels growing at the third-quickest pace.
There's some noise that applies to both those rankings. Despite sitting fifth-worst in the ratings, the Sixers 1.07 sits in the ballpark of the Charlotte Hornets (1.06), Atlanta Hawks (1.28) and Washington Wizards (0.96). Not exactly elite company in terms of sports-crazed markets, but each franchise entered 2015-16 with wildly different expectations from the Sixers.
On the flipside, the +45 percent change comes with the caveat of that low rating; the percentage gains aren't too impressive when you begin with a tiny portion. Still, to start 1-30 and gain observers (at a rate higher than the Cavaliers and Knicks to boot) is pretty amazing.
Perhaps this was a case of the ratings having nowhere to go but up -- a report by the Inquirer last summer revealed how dire local sports ratings were outside of the Eagles, with Sixers viewership down 72 percent from 2011, reaching just 23,000 adults per game. Considering Philadelphia is the fourth-largest market in the country, a rise to 33,000-ish adults watching each game isn't blowing the socks off Comcast Sportsnet executives.
Local viewership for the Sixers is beholden to many of the same principles of The Process: If not at elite or near-elite level, it's going to be a dogfight. The Sixers compete for eyes against the Flyers, whose fans are traditionally devoted even in tough times.
If nothing else, the rise is a testament to the commitment of a small segment of Philadelphians, whether they continue to follow the Sixers out of devotion, dementia or disdain.