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Why Do NBA Games Start Late?

Why Do NBA Games Start Late?

Why Do NBA Games Start Late?

All too often, you’ll find an NBA game scheduled on a national broadcast channel with a start time that is suitable for your needs.  You may prepare some food, take a seat in your favorite chair, switch onto the appropriate channel, only to find that the game has not yet started.

Frustrated, you may begin to wonder, just why do NBA games start so late?  Below, we are going to answer this question and discuss the reason behind why so many NBA games start late and after their scheduled broadcast time.

What Time Are NBA Games Typically Played?

Throughout the regular NBA season, that is the months of October through April, NBA games are played on nearly a daily basis.  With a brief break in February for the All-Star Game, NBA games are typically played daily and provide ample opportunities for casual and avid fans alike to tune in.

And during the regular season, these games are typically scheduled and played between the hours of 7:00 PM EST through 10:00 PM EST.  The reason for this late start time is that games are typically scheduled at a time when most fans have come home from work and school.

In addition, by scheduling games between 7:00-10:00 PM EST, the NBA is able to ensure that viewers and fans on the west coast, whom are in a time zone three hours behind their eastern time zone counterparts, can tune in to the game.

Similarly, with most NB games taking approximately two-and-a-half hours to complete, scheduling a 7:00 PM start time allows for a nearly perfect scheduling fit for broadcast networks to host back-to-back games.  That is, when the 7:00 PM game finishes, it is nearly time for the start of the 10:00 PM game, thus encouraging viewers to continue watching.

However, although the start time listed for most NBA games is set to 7:00 PM or 10:00 PM, realistically, most games do not start until ten to fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time.  Below, we are going to look at some of the factors which affect the start times.

Player Readiness

Although, in a perfect world, basketball and NBA players would be prepared for the exact start of the game, the truth is that NBA players are human too.  From using the bathroom, to drinking additional fluids, to dressing for the game, these players may take some additional time to prepare for the game.

As such, and at times, due to the extra time an NBA player may need to be prepared, a game may start slightly later than scheduled.

Player Warmups

Similarly, before the start of the game, NBA players will typically take to the court to warmup and prepare for the game.  Through shooting around, stretching, and light jogging, these players will help their bodies to prepare for the upcoming game.

However, sometimes, these warmups extend into the scheduled start of the game.  And while not done purposefully, if the warmups do extend into the scheduled start of the game, the game will need to be slightly delayed.

Player Announcements

Further, for each NBA game, there is a player announcement.  That is, the arena announcer will introduce both the home and away team and each individual player to the fans in the stadium.  With 12 players on each team, announcing each player can take some time and may eat into the scheduled start time of the game.

National Anthem

Similarly, before the start of every NBA game the United States national anthem is performed live.  In addition, if the game is being played in Canada or the Toronto Raptors are playing at an away game, the Canadian national anthem will also be performed.

The reason for this is due to the sense of patriotism and duty to the country that so many NBA players and fans feel.  As a means to unite players, teams, and fans, the national anthem is a reminder that there is more to life than basketball.

Commercial Breaks

Broadcasting a local or national NBA game is not cheap.  In 2016, both ESPN and TNT renewed their contracts with the NBA to broadcast live games.  This 9-year deal cost both ESPN and TNT upwards of $2.6 billion per year.  And in order to recoup those costs, both ESPN and TNT must place and run a slew of commercials throughout the program.

As such, many local and national broadcast stations will attempt to run additional commercial breaks where possible.  These commercial breaks, typically shown within a 2–3-minute timeframe, may infringe on the start time of the game.

However, for these broadcasters, the additional commercial breaks are paramount in their attempts. To fully recoup the cost in broadcasting the games.  And while irksome to the fans at home, it is one of the only solutions to the high costs associated with running these games.

Unexpected Events

And lastly, the reason that so many NBA games start late is due to a slew of unexpected, last-minute events which can occur.  Running a live broadcast is difficult and any delay in setup can push the start time of the game back.  Similarly, national or league-wide events can also push the games back.

From the unexpected passing of NBA great Kobe Bryant to the September 11th attacks, the NBA, its franchise teams, and its players must also honor and pay tribute to events which affect us all.