As the Wizards pretty quickly went from bad to good last season, many of their fans grew increasingly frustrated by the team’s national invisibility. Terrible teams like the Lakers and Knicks were on national TV night after night after night, while the Wizards — clearly one of the four or five best teams in the Eastern Conference — were not.
Cynics like me responded that TV broadcasters and league executives probably know which teams bring in the TV ratings, wins and losses be darned. Wizards fans countered that the best way to get fans excited in the league’s up-and-coming teams is to feature them on national television.
I thought of this back-and-forth recently, when a former colleague sent along the partial-plan information he had received from the Wizards.
The team offers an assortment of six- and 14-game “static plans,” with all games chosen by the team and costing a standard price. But it also allows for a la carte or “flex plan” pricing, in which patrons can assemble their chosen six (or 14) games on their own.
For those plans, of course, some games are more expensive than others. And the opponents are rated not by wins and losses, but by the same factors that put teams like the Lakers and Knicks on national TV night after night after night.
Here’s the highest, or “Blue” tier of games
Cavaliers, Friday Nov. 21 at 8
Lakers, Wednesday Dec. 3 at 7
Clippers, Friday Dec. 12 at 7
Knicks, Wednesday Jan. 7 at 7
Thunder, Wednesday Jan. 21 at 8
Cavaliers, Friday February 20 at 8
Knicks, Friday April 3 at 7
And here’s the next highest, or “White” tier of games
Heat, Monday Dec. 1 at 7
Celtics, Monday Dec. 8 at 7
Bulls, Tuesday Dec. 23 at 7
Celtics, Saturday Dec. 27 at 7
Bulls, Friday Jan. 9 at 8
Heat, Friday March 6 at 8
You know who’s missing from that list? That’s right, the Spurs, who only are the league’s defending champs. Also the Pacers, who finished second in the East and knocked the Wizards out of the playoffs, but who have never been a great draw.
The price differences aren’t small, either. For the cheapest 400-level seats in 14-game plans, blue games are $38, white $34, and the rest $18. That means it’ll cost you more than twice as much to see the 27-55 Lakers as it would to see the 62-20 Spurs. For six-game plans, the prices are $44, $38 and $22.
The percentage differences, of course, get smaller as the prices get higher. But the point remains: Lakers + Knicks > Spurs + Pacers.