Are Trail Blazers Fans Vanishing Before Our Eyes?


The Trail Blazers just finished a second consecutive disappointing season. The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16. Sure, fans can hope for the No. 1 pick, but what happens if Portland gets a less favorable (more likely) lottery outcome?

Fans may not put up with another season of constructing hope only to be met with disappointment and worse, irrelevance, from their beloved team.

If that’s the case, they won’t be beloved for long.

That, and the fact that the team’s current TV deal with Root Sports continues to be a sore spot among existing fans. Even if you want to watch the on-floor product, you have your fair share of hurdles.

John Canzano said on 750 The Game the team’s TV deal has been a problem for years.

“I think something was lost when the Blazers went to Comcast years ago,” Canzano said. “I think the connection with the fanbase was lost. The ability for all fans to tune in to local TV and see your team 15, 20, or 30 times a year really kept young fans who maybe weren’t going to the arena engaged with their team.”

Canzano says the franchise needs to take seriously its ability, or lack thereof, to connect with its young fanbase via television distribution.

“I think there’s a swath of fans that have grown up here in the last 15 years in Portland who haven’t seen the Blazers as much on television. Who don’t feel as deeply engrained and connected with the Blazers as prior generations?

“And for that reason I kind of wonder when that group grows up — Will they root? Will they buy season tickets? Will they stay engaged? I think it’s really short-sighted sometimes when these teams decide to cut television deals that lock out a portion of their perspective audience.”

The Phoenix Suns recently announced that they plan to make their games available free on local television next season. The Blazers used to televise a swath of games on local television every season but stopped when they made a deal with Comcast, and later, NBC SportsNW.

Whether the Blazers get the top pick in the lottery or not, there are always going to be some die-hard Blazers fans that will follow and cheer for the team. But with the current TV deal, if the team isn’t successful soon, it wouldn’t be surprising if many younger fans never come back.

Listen to the segment at the 1:57:45 mark in the podcast below. Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano weekdays 3-6 p.m. in Portland exclusively on 750 The Game.