The NBA schedule was released this week and New Orleans Hornets fans are disappointed with the lack of national TV exposure their team will receive. Writing at ESPN 1420, Scott Prather calls the Hornets’ two national TV games “insulting.” He argues that the Hornets are a playoff team and they have a superstar in Chris Paul, therefore they should receive more national attention.
By comparison, the Hawks are on national TV eight times and the Warriors have 10 national TV games. New Orleans will be on TNT Thanksgiving night against the Clippers (when everyone is already passed out from turkey overload), and they’re scheduled to face the Knicks on ESPN February 17th. That’s it.
So why so few games on TNT or ESPN?
For starters, there is a bias towards the most popular teams in the league. The Heat, Lakers, Bulls, Knicks, Celtics, and Mavericks will probably be on the big stage the maximum amount of times the league allows. After those teams are maxed out, the holes are filled in. That’s where time zone becomes an issue.
If you look at the way ESPN and TNT arranges their TV schedules, they do nothing but double-headers. They play early games and late games, so having one game on the East Coast and another on the West Coast is optimal. The Hornets are in the central time zone, which makes it tougher on double headers. If they televise a game in New Orleans, it’s going to delay the start for a night game. Why choose the Hornets to start a double header when most of the big ticket teams are on the East Coast? It’s impractical.
Similarly, there is less competition for night games. The only teams that start home games late at night are the Lakers, Clippers, Suns, Kings, Warriors, Blazers, Nuggets, and Jazz. Because they play in the Pacific or Mountain time zone, their start times are more conducive to hosting night games in double headers.
The Hornets are caught in a bad spot when it comes to national TV games because of their location and time zone. But let’s still be real: if they were that important of a team, the television giants would find a way to put them on TV.Google+