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Ratings keep going up because less people go to the games and watch from home.
That wouldn't make a significant difference in the ratings at all. Even if average attendance is down 10,000 people per game, which it won't be, that wouldn't be a big enough number of people to impact the ratings of a game.
Ratings are up because the product is extremely popular and hyped. Thats the reason I still can't see the lockout happening, no matter how close we get. The players and the owners are both making too much money to accept a lockout.
Basketball on the other hand could lockout. Teams actually lose money in the NBA.