Friday, February 20, 2015

Second thoughts on Prokhorov's Nets: necessary marketing efforts or failure to rebuild? (plus low TV ratings)

Now that the Brooklyn Nets have added one player, Thaddeus Young, trading Kevin Garnett, ESPN's Mike Mazzeo wrote:
1. It’s crazy to think that in June 2013, the Nets traded three unprotected first-round picks (2014, 2016, 2018) and the right to swap firsts in 2017 to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Garnett and Paul Pierce [and Jason Terry]. As of Feb. 19, 2015, they have Young. Not a good look.

Still, Garnett, 38, appeared to be on the significant decline...
The Nets are stuck in a bad place, wrote Devin Kharpertian of the Brooklyn Game.

And the second thoughts have begun.

As Capital New York's Howard Megdal wrote 2/17/15, The end of Prokhorov’s Nets experiment, into the Brooklyn Nets' third season, billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has fallen far short of his promise to win a title in five years, and are now back in the bottom half of the NBA in attendance.

Marketing move?

The publication of the paperback edition of Brooklyn Bounce led to further reconsiderations by author Jake Appleman and hoops writer Howard Beck, wrote Megdal:
Accordingly, Beck, Appleman and the crowd spent much of the night dissecting where it all went wrong, whether the Nets had any choice in treating this move as, in Beck's words, "ever since they moved from Newark to Brooklyn, we've seen them as more a marketing machine than a basketball franchise."
But as Appleman pointed out, they were essentially starting in a new place needing to attract new people to their new arena.
.,,"They had a choice before they got to Brooklyn," Beck pointed out. "They could have sat there, with Brook Lopez...and a nondescript roster that wasn't doing a whole lot, and they could have used their picks, made some minor trades, and could have gone what we'd call the organic route in the NBA. And try to come here with a young team that could have grown with this fan base. But they went the expedient route."
Appleman's not sure the Nets could have done that. But both scribes think the team can build, with  Beck saying:
The neighborhoods have kind of adapted ... and there are kids wearing Nets jerseys, and Nets hats, and Nets gear. They're established in the midset of the community. And especially the younger generation, they don't care if they're winning or losing anyway. They just love that there's a Brooklyn team that they're growing up with. For my daughter, who's in third grade, and all of her friends, that means something to them."
I don't know how many kids "just love there's a Brooklyn team," given, for example, the low TV ratings noted below, but it has to be growing. Appleman thinks the team needs to rebuild to recruit fans.

Low TV ratings

NetsDaily reported Brooklyn Nets have worst local TV ratings in NBA, citing Sports Business Journal:
In another measure of mediocrity, a little more than one-half of one percent of the New York market's TVs are tuned to YES for Nets games. That means Brooklyn has "the lowest average rating in the league," SBJ's John Ourand & David Broughton report. The Nets drop in ratings --29 percent-- is the fourth largest drop in rating this season. TheKnicks, whose audience is more than three times larger than the Nets, also suffered a big drop, 28 percent.
...With the Nets currently seeking more money in local TV ratings, this is bad news for ownership. 
The Daily News followed up 2/18/15, Nets have NBA’s worst local TV ratings, according to report:
"I think we have a casual fan base and our casual fan base comes in but they lose their interest if the team isn’t playing well," Nets CEO Brett Yormark told the Daily News, adding that ratings are "cyclical" and merchandise is still selling well.
"Our goal for the remaining 30 games is to not only have the viewers tune in from the beginning, but to stay and watch the entire game and that’s the goal and I’m confident that we’re going to make a nice run here in the next 30 games."
The Nets' TV contract pays more than $20 million a year, which runs until the 2031-32 season, but, as writer Stefan Bondy notes, any renegotiation would be "hard to justify... with these ratings."

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