What’s the size of the NBA’s following outside its home market?
May 5th, 2021, Rishad Dsouza

What’s the size of the NBA’s following outside its home market?

With the NBA having entered the business end of the regular season, we look at the league’s popularity in some of the key markets outside the USA.

For the purposes of this analysis, we picked the three markets that follow top-placed US on the FIBA Men’s Rankings (Spain, Australia and Argentina), markets neighbouring the US (Canada and Mexico) and two markets with a huge, known appetite for the NBA (China and Philippines).

Data from YouGov Global Fan Profiles reveals that the reach of the NBA is truly astronomical in the Philippines, with over 60% of the population indicating a high level of interest in the marquee basketball event. Next on the list is China (38%), closely followed by Canada (30%), whose Toronto Raptors are the only non-American team in the NBA.

Other markets tested appear to have very strong NBA interest too. Only in Australia (19%), which has the widest time zone difference with the US, do numbers dip below 20%. That’s nevertheless very healthy.

Another important metric of popularity on BrandIndex is the Buzz Score, which is a net score of whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about a brand. Once again, the Philippines towers over other markets, despite them registering appreciable values too.

Data from YouGov Profiles also revealed that LeBron James was most picked as the favourite NBA athlete by fans across several key markets. But besides the four-time NBA MVP, results were varied, with fans displaying allegiance towards players from, or representing, their geographies.

For example, the Australia-born Ben Simmons was voted as a favourite athlete by 17% of basketball followers in that market to finish third after James and Stephen Curry. American Kyle Lowry, who helped Toronto Raptors to their maiden Championship in 2019, gained 36% of the votes among Canadian supporters to finish only slightly behind James (37%). Over in Spain, Ricky Rubio came in second with 25% of basketball followers in that market voting for their compatriot.

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Methodology: YouGov Global Fan Profiles, which includes data from 38 markets, is based on continuously collected data from several sources, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Data referenced is based on a sample size of between 1,041 and 41,220 adults. Online interviews were conducted in April 2021.