Perhaps a bit, according to Nielsen numbers for the first half of the season. Games on Time Warner Cable's SportsNet averaged a 4.3 rating, which is down 10 percent from the like period in 2010-2011 (last year was shortened because of the lockout). That's a drop of about 24,000 households compared with a gain of 137,500 households for the Knicks. Leading the local ratings race is Oklahoma City, which had an average 8.6 for the first half of the year, up 207 percent from 2010-2011, before the team really got going. The Thunder was followed by San Antonio, Miami, Utah, and the Lakers. Laker comparisons get dicey because DirecTV didn't carry games until a month into the season and last year's away games were shown on KCAL, which generated higher ratings because everyone had access to the station. From Sports Business Daily:
"The formula is simple: The Thunder are one of the best teams in the league, Kevin Durant is one of the most marketable stars in the league, and the Thunder is the only professional sports team in Oklahoma," said Jon Heidtke, FS Oklahoma senior vice president and general manager. "I'm not surprised by the TV ratings they're pulling in."
In looking only at home games, THR found the Lakers to be averaging a 5.6 rating. As you can see, there are lots of ways to slice the onion. In general, though, the Lakers do not lose many viewers in bad years. The fan base is quite loyal and the soap opera quotient remains high. Meanwhile, the network games seem to be doing well. From the Reporter:
TNT, which carries games mostly on Thursdays, is on pace to deliver the network's third-most-viewed NBA season in a decade, and games on ABC are on pace with 2011-12. And ratings for the Lakers' Staples Center rivals, the L.A. Clippers -- tops in the Pacific Division with a 41-18 record -- are up 56 percent, though still nowhere near the Lakers' numbers.