Back-to-back playoff runs ending in a Game 7 defeat to the eventual champions. Part of the highest rated TNT playoff game ever. Despite those achievements, the Indiana Pacers only received 10 nationally televised games this upcoming season. That’s not the kind of respect you would expect to see.
The NBA released the 2013-2014 scheduled a couple weeks ago which included the schedules for their national television affiliates, ESPN and TNT. While the Pacers saw an increase in nationally televised games, up three from 2012, they only ranked 12th in the league, well short of the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers who each have 25 games.
For a team who came within one game of upsetting the defending champions, possibly culminating in an unlikely championship, the Pacers received no respect from the NBA and their national television affiliates. It’s understandable given the Pacers play in Indianapolis, which is not considered a big market, but without nationally televised games the team cannot grow their nationwide audience.
While a national audience may not seem like a huge deal, one has to remember All-Star voting is held nationwide by fans and awards voting is done nationwide by media members. If the fans and media have limited access to Pacers games then they are less likely to vote for them.
Pacers’ Roy Hibbert said it best last season: “Y’all mother****ers don’t watch us play throughout the year to tell you the truth. So that’s fine. I’m going to be real with you, and I don’t care if I get fined. We play and we’re not on TV all of the time and reporters are the ones that are voting and it is what it is. And I don’t make it, that’s fine. I’m still going to do what I have to do.”
The biggest win, schedule wise, for the Pacers should be that they play on ESPN four times before the New Year, something they did not do until after the New Year last season. However, the losing side of the schedule would be considered the second-tier team in eight of the ten games, only showing market dominance against the Minnesota Timberwolves and likely the Golden State Warriors.
A three game increase nationally is nice, but I cannot imagine Hibbert and Pacers Nation are too happy about it.