Is the Warriors' runaway success bad for the NBA?

BY Nunzio Ingrassia • January 28, 2016

It was supposed to be a tough test for the Warriors. They had just come off a shocking 18-point loss to the Detroit Pistons and were traveling to Cleveland for a Finals rematch.

It was the start of what many believed would be the Warriors' toughest stretch this season: at Cleveland, at Chicago, home against Indiana and home against San Antonio.

Not only did the Warriors go 4-0, but they barely broke a sweat;€“ crushing the Cavs, Bulls and Spurs by a combined 95 points. This was supposed to be the Warriors' stumbling block as they pursued the '95-96 Bulls' 72-10 mark. Instead, it was further proof that the Warriors are far and away better than everyone else in the Association.

So why even bother watching, right? Well, it looks like that's exactly what's happening league-wide.

Despite the Warriors' brilliance, the league's TV viewership is down 8.2 percent on TNT and 5.6 percent on ESPN. Steph Curry is must-see TV, but it's not translating into better TV ratings for the NBA.

Now are the Warriors to blame for the dip in viewership? Doubtful. Steph Curry is No. 1 in jersey sales so he's not bad for business. And his pregame routine is captivating:

But as the season has unfolded, it's become apparent that there are only three teams with a real shot at the title (Warriors, Cavs, Spurs). You could make an argument for the Thunder or the Clippers, but the aforementioned trio appears to be head and shoulders better than the rest. And the Warriors just crushed what many believe to be their toughest competition.  

So why is the NBA struggling to get fans to tune into games? Maybe fans are just bored of the Warriors making the rest of league look like cannon fodder, possibly waiting to see if Golden State gets challenged in the playoffs.

The Warriors are facing off more with history than any of their contemporaries. Other than wondering if they will break the Bulls' mark, the Warriors have robbed the NBA's regular season of any drama.

But this season overall has been largely drama-free, barring Blake Griffin's recent dust-up with a Clippers employee. The league is always better when there's a villain, but where is that one polarizing player? LeBron is back to being somewhat loved after his return to Cleveland, though David Blatt's firing hasn't helped his rep. Kobe is on his farewell tour, where road fans are showering him with cheers instead of a cascade of boos.

It's not like Golden State is the stoic San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors love to put on a good show, even though that show is missed by many on the East Coast because of the time-zone difference, and aren't afraid to show out on the court.

But for whatever reason, the Warriors' historic start hasn't been a viewership boon for the league.    

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