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The NBA is an ever-evolving beast, an international phenomenon and a premier basketball league. Most people will recognize its name even if they do not follow its games closely.
However, the league recognizes opportunities exist to broaden its global reach and make itself even bigger than it already is. Following other sports’ footsteps by branching into new international markets and seeking expansion opportunities themselves, the NBA is taking action as well.
The 2023/24 NBA season might be one of the most diverse in history, with 125 international players from 40 countries and territories across six continents. However, as they acknowledge that 10% of total team and league revenues come from global business, it is not a shock that a three-pronged approach is being followed.
According to Samantha Engelhardt – who is the league’s senior vice president of global strategy and innovation, the NBA is looking to try and make its product more accessible in newer countries, make the game more accessible and sharpen its marketing strategies.
The main issue that the league – and other American-based sports – can often find is that viewing figures are not as great as they could be because of the time zones in which the games are played. Fans in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East will often find it difficult to watch games that are played in primetime across North America, as it will be in the middle of the night or the very early hours of a working day. The league has looked to combat this by offering primetime viewing in those countries with weekend games that are played earlier in the US than traditionally experienced.
By doing this, they may attract a wider global viewing audience that allows for increased revenues through various means. Fans might decide to Bet on Basketball while watching, further heightening their enjoyment of the sport, or pay extra for channels broadcasting the league so as to allow the NBA more exclusive rights from broadcasters.
Media deals have always been a large percentage of the money generated, and by offering games that are better suited in terms of timing for foreign audiences, they may be able to grow this revenue stream further.
This third prong addresses the league’s international marketing strategies; approximately 70% of its support comes from outside of the US.
Figures indicate that more than 100 million unique viewers watched NBA content across multiple platforms across Asia and India last year. At the same time, Brazil demonstrated its dedication by forging exclusive partnerships to bring NBA TV broadcasting and merchandise sales directly into the country.
The NBA wants to enhance its marketing strategy across borders further as an ample revenue opportunity exists due to an increasing percentage of audiences outside their native nation. Games have already taken place overseas, and this should continue as it can help achieve each of their three goals more efficiently.
Given the global status and the popularity of the NBA already, it would not be a surprise if the league was to be successful in its efforts to increase its footprint and continue to expand worldwide.
There is no guarantee that their three-pronged approach will work, but it is clear that they have recognized key aspects that can help the sport grow and boost its appeal in the correct way, thus potentially generating more revenue in the future that can enhance the overall product.