BLOG | by YouGov Sport

NBA Playoffs generate pre-pandemic levels of Buzz

It’s yet another sign things are returning to normal in the United States. The start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs generated the same amount of Buzz as it did during the pre-pandemic 2019 elimination tournament, signaling an improvement over the rescheduled playoffs last year.

Among American fans of the league, NBA’s Buzz score was 28 on May 22, 2021 (Day 1 of the 2021 tournament), exactly the league’s Buzz score at the start of the 2019 run on April 13, 2019. YouGov Sport’s Buzz score is a net score of whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about a team or league.

The league’s Buzz score this year dropped marginally as the semi-finals were set to begin in mid-June, but was still ahead of the league’s performance last year at the same point in the tournament.

Indeed, the 2020 Playoffs were an anomaly. COVID-19 stopped NBA play dead in its tracks in March, pushing back the regular season and the playoffs deep into the summer. As other leagues and sporting events were also forced to reschedule play, the NBA was fighting for attention in those summer months. It’s worth noting, however, that the league’s Buzz score during its scuttled 2020 Playoff schedule rallied and finished off within throwing distance of its score in 2019.

Apart from the return to a somewhat normal schedule, this year’s healthy Buzz score could be attributed in part to the initial playoff teams. Six of the top ten most popular teams among US fans of the league made it to the post-season this year – the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. Five of the top ten made it to the playoffs in 2020 and 2019.

In terms of generating Buzz around the post-season, it appears the league has largely rebounded from the pandemic. Now can the NBA sustain it for the duration of the playoffs?

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. The NBA’s Buzz score is based on the questions: “Over the past two weeks, which of the following teams have you heard something positive about?” and “Now which of the following teams have you heard something negative about? and delivered as a net score between –100 and + 100. Scores are based on an average daily sample size of 226 US adults between January 1, 2018 and June 16, 2021.  Figures are based on a 4-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex.

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