NBA viewership in local television markets has increased over last season’s numbers as of the All-Star Break, but not for the Portland Trail Blazers.

According to the Nielsen Station Index, 18 NBA franchises had increased their linear TV viewership year-to-year through the same amount of games, likely due to the success of the NBA In-Season Tournament. But the Blazers saw a league-worst 49 percent drop in viewership over last season.

There are likely a few reasons for the Blazers' drop. Firstly, the team traded away franchise icon Damian Lillard over the offseason. While many fans understand and have made peace with reasoning for the move, there are a lot of casual fans out there with TV's whose sole reason to tune in was to watch the best Blazers player of all-time do his thing.

Secondly, and related to the first point, the team is in the early stages of a rebuild and has struggled to play competitive basketball for significant stretches. There are plenty of interesting storylines this season, but the casual fan may just want to settle in after a long day and watch some quality basketball every once in a while. At 15-39, the Blazers are necessarily giving that to fans that are already partially invested.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly than one may think, the ROOT Sports TV deal continues to be a problem for the Blazers. After a couple seasons of Lillard telling Portland fans that “Hulu has live sports,” those same fans were forced to switch to Comcast Xfinity or Fubo's streaming service in order to watch the local games. Then, this offseason, Xfinity moved ROOT Sports into a higher priced package, leaving fans wondering if it was worth an extra $20/month to watch the Blazers. That doesn't even get into ROOT's tendency to prioritize Seattle Kraken games, leaving Blazers fans hunting to find Portland on an overflow channel somewhere in the thousands (channel 1253, if you're looking for it).

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Peter Sampson ·

In-game attendance has not fallen significantly for the Blazers this season, which shows that demand is still there to a degree. Portland is averaging 18,354 fans this season, which ranks 13th in the NBA, down from 18,716 last season, which ranked 10th. That signifies just a 1.9% decrease.

The team's deal with ROOT Sports expires in 2025. While there hasn't been any clear sign of what the Blazers plan to do once the contract is up for renewal, sources close to the team have indicated that they're not thrilled with the partnership as it stands. The Phoenix Suns and several other teams have seen huge success moving their games to free over-the-air channels as regional sports networks continue to flounder.