Originally Posted by Edskin
Not sure how you base interest.... First of all, the NBA is much more popular internationally and they make a killing in places like China, etc where their stars are mega celebrities.
Secondary, TV ratings.... They are generally better than MLB here in the states. That isn't the only gauge of "interest" of course but it is one you can measure.
The NBA is definitely very cyclical and has peaks and valleys in terms of interest. Right now it is near an all time high. I beleive it is the best product in sports right now all things considered. I have followed the league closely all my life and this is as strong, competitive, and compelling as it has ever been... And that is clearly reflected in the ratings.
And I'm not an apologist for it... I actually think the league was very overrated in the Jordan years as his competition was "eh" at best. He was just a strong enough star to carry the league for nearly a decade. Late 90's into early 2000's was a horrible period for the league. Boring teams and stars that weren't stars at all.
Then, in the mid 2000's the league got an influx of legitimate superstars and extremely good teams and it is at a crescendo right now.
There are far more fans of baseball than the NBA based on almost every market survey I've ever seen. TV ratings are definitely misleading because baseball is such a marathon sport, people aren't inclined to tune-in 6-7 nights a week to watch their favorite team because that would be 18-20 hours a week to do so. It's much easier to watch 2-3 games a week (like the NBA) for 5-7 hours.
Nonetheless, I think that baseball teams can draw, on average, twice as many fans for a home baseball game despite having twice as many home games than NBA teams probably tells the story about total interest.