Adam Silver On WFAN: 'Players Can Be Stars In Any Market'


Adam Silver has been the Commissioner of the NBA since David Stern retired from the postion back in 2014. He grew up in Rye, New York, a northern suburb of New York City in Westchester County.

He joined WFAN's Mike Francesa Thursday afternoon to talk about the league's reportedly proposed schedule changes, NBA ratings, changes in the way viewers consume the league's content, social media, etc.

"Somebody in technology told me," Silver said. "There will be more changes in the next five years than we've seen in the last fourty years."

"That young audience, those under 18, don't watch cable. The numbers for that group, just over the last 4 years, is over a 50 % decrease for TV viewership. Cable mainatains an incredible dominance when it comes to live sports .... otherwise we're like everyone else. watching Amazon, Netlflix, Hulu, YouTube you name it. The problem is if our viewers are no longer there, if the network you're on isn't a full-time sports network, it's not necessarily the place those sports fans are already watching."

NBA on TNT ratings are down 22% while the NBA on ESPN is down 19%, according to the Sports Business Journal.

"I know as a fan of lots of sports, grew up in this market, big Yankees fan, if there's an alert, I can't just click and have that game appear on my phone, there's multiple steps, authentication, open an app, all problems that can be solved with technlogy, ...people still have confidence in this incredible content, the game on the floor is only gttting better, becoming more global. The pool of young people playing it is getting better, great athletes are moving to basketball, we just have to navigate through this transition right now."

The loss of superstar players to injuries including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson, etc. could be a cause of the national television ratings going down, Silver explains.

"We have to make decisions in late July as to what games are going to be featured on our network partners, we have a load of warriors games, nobody anticipated Zion would be out, on the resting i hear you, if were going to be a star driven league, they expect to see those stars... whether it's reducing back to backs, eliminated four games in five nights.

"Injuries are the real plague: if a player sat every so often it would really decrease significant chances of injury and lengthen their career, we would be doing more of it. Spreading out the season, not number of games but rest between the games, we are putting a lot of resources at this issue."

The New York Knicks have struggled in recent years to pick up top superstar talents in free agency. The allure of Madison Square Garden hasn't worked as well as in the past for the franchise.

"It would be great in the countrys largest media market to have a high performing team thats winning more games on the floor, increasingly with every game available that the market is less signficiant than it used to, what's healthy for the league is that players don't have a sense that they need to be in a certain market to be successful."

"A player now realizes they can be in Indiana or San Antonio and if their team is winning they are going to be globally famous, back in the day there were much larger economic differences between being successful in New York versus a smaller market."

Click the audio player above to listen to Francesa's comments in its entirety.