A Sports Business Journal study of local television ratings for most of the NBA's teams--data weren't available for four squads--found that the Orlando Magic's have plummeted. Just 1.1 percent of households with Fox Sports Florida, the channel that broadcasts Orlando's games, tune in when the team is on, according to the report. That's a 54 percent decrease from the 2010/11 season, the last full NBA campaign.
Further, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats are the only two teams for which data were available that have fewer households tune in, on average, than Orlando does. About 15,500 Magic fans are watching on television when Orlando is in action.
The sharp decrease comes despite the fact that Orlando streamlined its fans' viewing options for 2012/13. In past years, Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports divvied Orlando's schedule between themselves. In 2012/13, Fox Sports Florida is the only local station that carries Magic games, making the team easier to find on the TV dial. "All this back-and-forth, so confusing!" says Magic sideline reporter and studio host Paul Kennedy in one of several TV spots promoting the switch.
But the reason for the decline in TV viewership should be obvious: after trading Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando is in a rebuilding phase, and with rebuilding comes losing. At 15-38, the Magic have the league's second-worst record, and they've lost 25 of their last 28 outings. When broadcast data were last available, the Magic had Howard and were a playoff team.
Orlando's broadcast team of play-by-play man David Steele and analyst Matt Guokas has earned praise for being one of the league's best. Zach Lowe of Grantland called the pair "perhaps the very best on your League Pass dial."