The NBA set its schedule for the rest of the 2019-20 season and the following offseason this past week. Everything has been thrown out of wack and the NBA Draft will now take place in October, three days after the final potential NBA Finals game. This is quite a change from its usual June broadcast date, and they may have trouble getting people to turn it on.
As pointed out by PFT's Mike Florio this morning, the 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to take place on October 15, a Thursday night. This means it'll be going up against the Thursday Night Football matchup scheduled to take place that evening, which happens to be an appearance by the defending champs. The Chiefs will play the Bills that night. Usually, TNF struggles to get attention given the quality of the matchups, but it's still the NFL. People will be watching in abundance. This TNF billing is not only featuring the most exciting team in the league, it should also be a very competitive game between two 2019 playoff teams. That makes life tough for the NBA holding their marquee offseason event that night.
As if that wasn't enough, the second presidential debate is also scheduled for that night. Debates are big enough to draw viewers away from even NFL games, much less the NBA Draft. Between Patrick Mahomes and that, there will be a lot of incentive to watch anything other than the NBA Draft.
It's an easy conclusion to come to before thinking about the quality of this draft. There are good players to be found, but there aren't any obvious superstars in this draft like in 2019, which featured the sensational Zion Williamson. The cancellation of the remainder of the college basketball season paired with what was supposed to be a weak draft anyway means there isn't really any hype at all outside of NBA Draft fan circles.
The 2019 draft drew 3.09 million viewers. With all the factors at play this year, it's hard to imagine the 2020 draft will come close to those numbers, which were already rather low by this decade's standards. The NBA probably won't move the draft, because the coronavirus pandemic throwing everything off means ratings take a back seat to actually getting things done. But it's not an optimistic outlook right now.