*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.
Could we see a shorter NBA season sooner rather than later?
That idea and many others were floated by Commissioner Adam Silver at the league’s annual end-of-season meeting of its Board of Governors.
What do you need to know?
1. The league is exploring the idea of trimming games down from 48 minutes to 40 minutes, which would match both college and international rules.
2. Silver likes the idea of adding in in-season tournaments, something that the NBA 2K League has seen success with.
3. Any changes of this magnitude are likely five-to-six years out, according to Silver.
European soccer presents a shining light…
When it comes to changes, the most radical of all could be implementing in-season tournaments that give teams something to play for during the year beyond just the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Not only would it build more off-time into the schedule, it would also give the league tentpole events to drum up larger and differentiated viewership opportunities, something that is of chief importance to the league.
While the idea of an in-season tournament foreign to U.S. sports fans, Silver pointed to international soccer as a best practice for what the NBA could do.
“I know for most of the American viewers, that’s a very foreign concept because we’re not used to having multiple goals throughout the season. But as I said, it’s very commonplace in international soccer. It would take a while to develop those new traditions because I think initially the reaction may be ‘Who cares who wins the midseason tournament? It’s all about the Larry O’Brien Trophy.’ So we need to take a long-term perspective on these things.” – Adam Silver
What about “load management?”
Is 82 games too many? While nothing is likely to change anytime soon, “load management” has become a talking point across the industry due to the fact that many fans are paying or tuning in to watch the stars play, and they aren’t playing.
“I think a fair point from fans could be if, ultimately, the science suggests that 82 games is too many games for these players, maybe you shouldn’t have an 82-game season,” said Silver. “I accept that, and that’s something we’ll continue to look at.”
In the end, it’s all about the fans…
“I think we always have to step back and remind ourselves that, at the end of the day, this is about the fan, especially as the media landscape is changing and the bundle of pay television is changing, and we may move into a world where we have to win that support of the viewer every night.” – Adam Silver on the potential future changes in regards to the NBA’s schedule