The National Basketball Association (NBA) is experiencing a surge in international interest as the new season begins. The league expects fans from over 200 countries to watch games in more than 50 languages, with global interest increasing significantly compared to last season. International business accounts for about 10% of team and league revenue, reaching an all-time high last year, and the NBA anticipates further growth this year.
To meet the rising international demand, the league is implementing a three-pronged approach. This includes airing games during primetime in certain global markets, enhancing programs for children, and focusing on specific regions such as India. The NBA aims to make it easy for international fans to follow the league and their favorite teams and players through various platforms, including linear television, social media, and digital platforms like the NBA App.
One major factor driving the increase in international interest is the number of international players in the league this season. A record-breaking 125 international players from 40 countries and territories across six continents, including notable players like Nikola Jokić and Giannis Antetokounmpo, are part of opening-night rosters. The NBA has seen TV viewership grow in European countries where these players are driving interest.
The league's international strategy involves global outreach to children, providing more accessible live games, and focusing on localized programming. Programs like Basketball Without Borders and NBA Basketball School have been successful in creating opportunities for children around the world. The NBA is also bringing the basketball experience to international fans through events, merchandise, branded attractions, and live games. Additionally, the league is bolstering its social media community and partnering with media outlets in specific markets, such as Prime Video in Brazil.
The NBA recognizes the importance of the international market as it seeks to craft its next media deal. The league has seen record digital and social consumption in several Asian markets, including India and the Philippines. While the NBA has faced challenges in markets like China, it remains an important focus for the league in terms of making programming accessible.
As international interest in the NBA continues to grow, the league is committed to meeting the needs of its international fans and assessing their preferences. The NBA recognizes that international fans are passionate and knowledgeable, following the same storylines and news as fans in the United States.