The NBA released its schedule for the 2019-20 season on Monday with notably fewer 10:30 p.m. ET games throughout the season.
What gives? The NBA apparently is trying to bump up viewership, especially on the heavily populated East Coast where 10:30 p.m. games stretch well past midnight and people last season weren’t staying up as much to watch.
According to the New York Post, the league’s decision to have only 33 10:30 p.m. ET games — down from 56 last season — has much to do with LeBron James’ decision to join the Lakers, but you could say the same about Kawhi Leonard’s decision to join the Clippers, too.
Ratings were down 15 percent on TNT and 1 percent on ESPN in 2018-19, largely due to Lakers and Warriors games starting so late.
This season they will headline just 10 10:30 p.m. ET games. Last year the Lakers played 19 games that late.
Much like the Lakers, the Warriors and popular star Stephen Curry aren’t playing as many late games. This season they will headline 11 10:30 p.m. ET games, compared to 18 last year.
The Clippers, featuring Leonard and Paul George, are scheduled to be on TNT 11 times but only five times at 10:30 p.m. ET, including against the Lakers (Oct. 22) and Warriors (Oct. 24) in the first three days of the season.
Most of the late games will be Thursday nights and carried by TNT with the 8 and 10:30 p.m ET doubleheaders remaining the same.
However, the game times on ESPN earlier in the week will change and either be at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET or 7 and 10 p.m. ET.