Believe it or not, Minnesotans enjoy watching successful professional basketball in their home state. The problem for the last 13 years, however, is that the Minnesota Timberwolves have not been successful.
The 2017-18 season has brought new fortunes for Timberwolves fans, however, and it is reflected in local television ratings.
The SportsBusiness Journal released an NBA television ratings report on Monday, highlighting the league’s continued growth despite the decline in ratings of other major sports. Nationally-televised NBA games (ABC, ESPN, NBATV and TNT) are up 15 percent from 2016-17 and locally-televised games are up 7 percent from last season. SportsBusiness Journal collected data on 27 regional sports networks that broadcast NBA games. Information on Memphis, Utah and Toronto was not available.
Minnesota’s average rating of 2.6 is a 66 percent increase from 2016-17, the third-highest increase in the NBA. Boston (82 percent) and Washington (70 percent) are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the growth department.
Whether the growth is due purely to winning or due to the added star power of Jimmy Butler, the numbers show the collective fan base has taken a higher interest in the Timberwolves this season. It’s tough to blame the fans for paying closer attention to the No. 4 team in the Western Conference after 13 straight seasons without a playoff berth.
It should also be noted that the Fox Sports North Timberwolves broadcast team is phenomenal and probably has something to do with the ratings boost. It doesn’t get much better than Dave Benz and Jim Petersen (and sometimes Lindsay Whalen) in the booth.