One of the most exciting elements of this NBA season is that both LA-based teams are championship contenders, with either LeBron James and Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard and Paul George rolling into the Staples Center nearly every night.
As a non-native Angeleno, it’s been super interesting to get a feel for the city’s fan landscape and rooting interests - for as good as the Clippers have been over the past decade, and despite the fact that they are the favorite to win the 2020 NBA Championship, LA is still very much a Laker town.
Google Search Interest
This can be seen super easily through search trends of LA residents over the past year - there’s only been a single week where searches for the Clippers exceeded searches for the Lakers (the Clipper’s tough battle against the Warriors in the playoffs, Lakers not playing), and even the twin signings of both Kawhi and PG were dwarfed by the Anthony Davis trade and rest of Lakers free agency.
The other place where Laker supremacy can be felt most tangibly, particularly for anyone who loves going to games in person, are home game ticket prices. While prices differ by game and opponent, Lakers tickets are routinely four to five times as expensive than Clippers tickets.
To try to get a sense of how prices vary for the rest of the 2019-2020 season, I went through Seatgeek and recorded the the cheapest tickets currently available on the secondary market. This won’t necessarily capture differences in the average or median ticket price (which is a reportedly a good amount higher), or differences in high-end floor seats and boxes, it should still be a pretty useful gauge of fan demand and willingness to pay.
One fun aside - see the two most expensive remaining for each team, on Christmas for the Lakers and early March for the Clippers? That’s when they play each other!
Laker Premium vs Common Opponents
Since both teams play extremely similar schedules, I thought it might also be interesting to slice the data by opponent to “control” for the quality of opposing teams, which definitely can influence individual game prices. What we end up seeing is a large and sustained “Laker Premium” in ticket prices, with no games against a common opponent costing more with the Clippers as the home team than the Lakers, and most games $70-100 more expensive. As of now, the Celtics and Lakers has the biggest spread in prices vs the Clippers, which makes perfect sense given their historical rivalry and the Celtic’s hot start to the season.
One final area of interest I wanted to check into was understanding any larger-order scheduling differences between the two teams. We see a few main trends when slicing the data by day of the week and time of day, which seem to point at two main points:
- The Lakers have a league-high 44 nationally televised games this season, which means they are typically booked for high interest times for both in-person and primetime viewing on TNT and ESPN. The Clippers have a franchise-high 26 games, but still trail the Lakers in this department
- The Clippers have 7 remaining 12:30 PM home games in the Staples Center - those games come on days where the LA Kings play in the evening slot, a trend that does not appear to impact the Lakers