BLOG | by Tracy Schoenadel

West coasters much more excited about NBA play-offs. Even though the Lakers are the #1 team on both sides of the country.

As rivalries go, east coast versus west coast has had its fair share of ties over the years. But on Sunday night, the Lakers took a convincing win for the West as they claimed the NBA Championship for a record-equaling 17th time.

It’s been ten years since the Lakers beat the Celtics to win their last Championship and since then there have been no true East v West match-ups in the NBA finals. So was there equal excitement on both sides of country about this contest – or is Pacific coast versus Atlantic coast a confection of the commentators looking for another angle?

Our chart below shows you the Buzz generated for the NBA among the general public on either side of the country since the beginning of September – and as you can see, there’s a stark difference between the two trends.

Buzz (a net score based on the question ‘Have you heard something positive/negative about the NBA in the past two weeks?’) starts off higher on the east coast at the beginning of September but, by the middle of the month, it’s overtaken by west coast Buzz.

Towards the end of September, the amount of Buzz converged briefly – as the Celtics (the country’s fourth best-supported team) run the Heat (its fifth) close in the Conference Finals. But by mid-October, Buzz on the Pacific side of the country is beating that on the Atlantic side by a factor of between six and eight.

Should that surprise us? Perhaps not. The Lakers are the nation’s current favourite team with more than twice as much support across the country as the Heat as things stand. So it’s natural, with a bigger supporter base, that more people get excited about the Lakers’ progress and that more of them would be on the west coast.

But actually there are plenty on the east coast too. In fact, the Lakers are also the favorite team of East Coasters (with the Heat in fourth place). So perhaps what’s more surprising is that the Lakers’ success has not generated more Buzz everywhere… including in places where we might expect the Heat to win out.

Photo by Tim Hart

BLOG | by Tracy Schoenadal

Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Sports, North America

Tracy is one of the leading authorities in sport marketing and sponsorship research with 25 years of experience in the sponsorship and advertising industry, as well as holding academic positions at University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York University, University of Richmond and University of Connecticut. Tracy was the original managing editor of the publication Sport Marketing Quarterly. She holds a degree in Sport Management.


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