The art of globalization, or how the NBA finally conquered the world [Partie 2/2]
The first part of this analysis, published Thursday, January 19, focuses the reader’s curiosity more on the historical details that made the NBA League conquer the hearts of sports fans in both parts of the world.
NBA, model of success in terms of communication
The use of social networks is one of the cornerstones of the NBA’s development internationally. Without a doubt, it is the sports leagues that are best able to adapt their content to this new means of communication, ideal for reaching a global audience. League Commissioner Adam Silver realized that most fans would never have the opportunity to attend a live game. Social networks make it possible to reach and retain audiences that were previously unreachable. League mainly uses Twitter and Instagram to cover the game live. Highlights of each meeting are published almost instantly to take advantage buzz made by a dipa gang oops or one bell bat. This is made possible by the intrinsic nature of basketball, as possession is limited to 24 seconds, adapting perfectly to the immediacy standards imposed by social networks. While the time difference means matches are in the evening for European spectators and during the day for Asian spectators, the short summary available at any time is perfect for these markets. The league has decided to choose a strategy “abundance” by flooding social networks with content. Thus, apart from meetings, the NBA also publishes exclusive content on its social networks, such as interviews with players, coaches or figures close to the NBA ecosystem.
As this graph shows, the Big League’s social media strategy seems optimal. Indeed, the NBA is the sports league that amassed the most views on social networks in 2021. Although it does benefit from lower television viewership than its two main rivals in the Americas region (the National Football League and Major League Baseball), Adam Silver believes that social networks will gradually seek to acquire the rights to broadcast sports championships to differentiate themselves from their competitors. With this in mind, the NBA commissioner wants to position his league in the best possible way for future negotiations.
It is also an exhibition of American culture. Holy place I’m grateful, a memorial day honoring Martin Luther-King, the national anthem before each meeting, the NBA calendar is filled with events highlighting local culture. In addition to these events, the League maintains a marked influence on fashion through its player reflections. Plus, the NBA ecosystem is all over the place in rap texts, including French texts. It represents an ideal, avant-garde universe and a model of success. The final factor of cultural propagation, the NBA Global Games push live NBA shows into foreign territory. These encounters include preseason games as well as regular season games. They mainly took place in countries targeted by the League to grow market share there.
Mexico is also very popular with the NBA. During his most recent visit to Mexico in December 2022, during a regular season game, Adam Silver even made clear his desire to make the capital of Mexico the 31st NBA franchise: “I believe it is our true destiny to continue to grow, both in the United States and beyond”. No fewer than 11 regular season games have taken place in North America’s largest city between 2014 and 2022. Only Japan has surpassed Mexico in regular season game numbers, with 12 between 1990 and 2003, indicating a marked decline in interest in the islands. last decade. Only two other countries have hosted regular season games: England with 9 games between 2011 and 2019 and France with 2 games between 2020 and 2023. In addition to these games, the NBA also hosts preseason games outside its borders. While the latter have garnered little interest and media coverage, they are a gateway to the NBA in targeted countries, as the Mexico-England-France triad might have in the 90s before hosting regular season games some 20 years ago. then. Thus, the NBA hosted 25 games of this preseason in China between 2004 and 2019 and entered the Indian market for the first time in 2019 by hosting 2 games there. Yes, this NBA Global Games fully aligned with the NBA’s communications strategy, they are also an expression of its desire for continued growth.
A global economic model based on growth
Since Adam Silver took charge of the NBA, the NBA has focused on international expansion, particularly in developing markets. Since the late 2010s, tensions between China and the NBA have followed tweet of Daryl Morey has calmed down. In 2019, the League even entered into a partnership with Ali Baba and Tencent to expand its offerings in China. Ali Baba enabling the NBA to flood the Chinese market with derivative products while Tencent, through its status as an official digital partner, broadcasts matches and other video content. The league has also signed a partnership with China’s Ministry of Education to develop the practice of basketball in the country, from elementary school to higher education. This agreement covers the arrival of NBA players, coaches and legends. In addition, guidance from local trainers and physical trainers is also included in this program. Additionally, many academies have been established in China to train and detect new talents in order to, perhaps, unearth the next Yao Ming.
At the same time, the NBA is also turning to India, where it intends to capitalize on the obvious structural gulf coupled with the lack of infrastructure and professional leagues. This shows great interest in this market with immeasurable potential, with over a billion new viewers and potential consumers. In order to ensure its development in India, the NBA has decided to opt for a proven strategy in China. The goal is to reproduce the Yao Ming phenomenon in India. Thus relying on national pride by importing India into the NBA and not the other way around, this strategy is completely in line with the existing exacerbation of nationalism in India. With this in mind, many academies have been developed devoted to the training and detection of new talent. Currently, no talent comparable to Yao Ming had been found in India. While waiting for a possible market boom one day, it is still struggling to establish itself due to the popularity of cricket and football in the country.
Finally, the NBA is also eyeing the African continent, recently launching the Basketball Africa League (BAL) there. The BAL is the first professional league created by the NBA outside the United States. The league also has a presence on the continent through the NBA Worries, this time for non-sporting reasons, because this organization aims to work on social issues such as education, youth and health. Therefore, the imprint of the NBA on the African continent is very strong, akin to real sporting and ideological scrutiny. Africa is certainly the geographical area most conducive to the massive development of the NBA, a continent that already has the current Yao Ming among the people of Joël Embiid and Pascal Siakam. The presence of African players in the NBA is likely to fuel the American dream among the youth of countries with lower levels of development than the West. By establishing its own league there and by conveying its value there through various means, including NBA Cares, the NBA is in the process of monopolizing the African market in an even more direct way than in India or China.
As such, the NBA has made conquering new markets a key goal of its growth strategy. This strategy benefits from twofold interests: acquiring television rights and developing and detecting new talent that will strengthen the Sports League. This strategy had the advantage of putting the NBA in a good circle of continued growth, and giving it cultural and economic dominance in European markets, as well as in world markets. Local competition is relegated to the background, both in the media and sportingly speaking, the NBA attracts talent from around the world and is a real muscle drain.
Théo Noël and Rémi Bessiere
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