With the NBA running into freedom of speech trouble in China this season, we thought we’d take a quick look at how big its fanbase is in the country – and how its Chinese market compares to football, hockey and baseball’s.
Using Global Fan Profiles, our new sports fanbase profiling service, we can dive quickly into any one of more than 30 markets and examine fans of specific leagues, as well as of teams and other competitions.
As you can see from the ranking table above, the NBA is the most popular major league in China – no surprise there. But our data tells us that it enjoys a significant lead over its next biggest competitor – which surprisingly is the NHL. In fact, it’s pretty much neck and neck between hockey, MLB and NFL (and for full numbers, get in touch).
But importantly, the NBA also boasts the most avid supporters – see the table above. Four times as many Chinese tell us that the NBA is one of their top interests as any other sport. That means that Chinese fandom of the NBA is more passionate – and therefore easier to leverage for rightsholders and brands.
For the NBA, this Chinese audience is a real prize asset – and one that they will wish to hold on to, whatever the prevailing political winds.