Professional Basketball and Target Markets of NBA

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This report primarily seeks to examine the overall industry of professional basketball in a global market and recommend any ways or strategies to increase its popularity.

This report finds that basketball as a sport is currently growing very rapidly, becoming the second most watched sport in the United States, as well as the as well as being the 2nd most popular team sport in the world, the potential marketability of basketball is very high. Over 200 nations compete against each other while the spectacle of the games at the Olympics are always a very popular event.

However it is not without its struggles, in the United States American Football and Baseball have a longer history and legacy behind them, which has proven quite difficult to break in recent years. Historically, Basketball has often ben though to be a more “urban” sport () although this perception is changing, many American families dating back generations have played and watched football or baseball growing up leaving basketball at somewhat of a disadvantage. Globally with the popularity of Football in the world, as well as many nations preferring other traditionally popular sports (New Zeland – rugby, India – cricket etc.) forces basketball to put extra emphasis on penetrating these markets as ell as creating a staying power for growth and longevity

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the worlds most acclaimed basketball organisation and this report seeks to evaluate the organisation as a whole, and by using holistic analysis of its trends, and global marketing attempts, see if it would be possible to increase the popularity of the sport globally, as well as suggest areas of growth and ways to increase its overall productivity.

Background Analysis

The NBA also oversees properties such as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA, comprised of 14 teams); NBA Development League (NBADL, comprised of 16 teams); NBA Entertainment (online websites and interactive media); and NBA TV (cable TV channel offering news, original programming, and live game broadcasts).

Case Study

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world’s premier professional basketball league(). Based within the United States The NBA is comprised of 30 franchises located in 22 states all competeting for the ultimate prize The NBA championship. The 30 franchises are divided into Eastern and Western Conferences and are further divided into three divisions with five teams in each division. The determinant of which conference and divisiona team is placed in is solely based off of its respective location. Each team’s roster is made up of a maximum of fifteen players on varying contracts with five starting players and up to ten supplementary players. Teams accumulate revenue in a number of ways including television contracts, ticket & merchandise sales,and advertising. The sharing of revenue between franchises and players is outlined within the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Franchises seek to attract players who have the most talent and compete with each other in order to sign these players by offering lucrative contracts based on that team’s cap availability. Players from all over the world seek to test their abilities in the NBA and secure a contract for themselves in order to ensure their longevity in the competitive sports league. Although the game of basketball was founded by Dr. James Naismith accidentally in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, it has garnered global attention with the evolution of the NBA and its talented athletes. Basketball is now played in more than 70 countries worldwide The NBA is a league on the rise and its presence among the four professional sports leagues in North America only continues to grow The globalization of the game of basketball augurs well not only for the general acceptance of the sport, but also for the extraordinary growth opportunity for the NBA.

The NBA is currently in its 72nd year of operation, and although extremely popular a continued emphasis on marketing is key to develop global brand awareness and successful growth of the organisation.

The NBA is “one of the worlds most premier premier sports and entertainment enterprise companies, bringing excitement to millions of fans millions of fans around the world” () during the last 34 years, the NBA has enjoyed a large scale increase in its revenue streams, its games are televised in 215 countries and in 49 languages() and its websites attract more than 60M visitors a day(). On further analysis despite the proliferation of the internet, the NBA seems to attract more live audiences than those watching games on TV.

As seen in the in the 20017-18 season, the seasonal attendance record as broken for a 4th straight year with over 22.1M (), while only 17.56M decided to tune in for the final(). As the NBA continues to implement ne marketing campaigns, through avenues such as interactive TV and live in-game interviews, it can gauge audience reception better to find out what the TV audience prefers and thereby increase viewership numbers.

The NBA specifically Targets 4 markets:

Sports fans

  • Those who enjoy watching and playing sports in general, regardless of their affinity to basketball. live entertainment
  • Customers who attend live games regularly, be it ticket holders or celebrities or other sporting professionals.
  • Athletes
  • Those who wish to someday play in the NBA. Along with domestic candidates, this also includes athletes abroad who could potentially be scouted, and finally recreational fans
  • Those who have no outright passion for basketball and ill not go to games but may catch the odd game if it is televised

The NBA as a business seeks to cater to its customers first and foremost and attempts to fulfil benefits that are important to its customers such as enhancing the Fan Experience. Many fans seek to fully experience the game and wish to immerse themselves with their idols. The NBA does this through its website and other services, to give fans an opportunity to “touch” and interact with the league, its teams and its players (). Further enhancing the fan experience is the combination traditional and new media including real-time statistics, scores, live-studio based programming and usage of Virtual reality and highlights to give the fans the ultimate experience.

A high standard of Customer service is also important in attempting to build a stable business with a dedicated following. The NBA does this by implementing programs whereby athletes go out and interact with fans and the community These programs are there also in order to for the athletes to demonstrate leadership as well as portray a social responsibility for the company and tend to involve volunteer services and fund-raising for charity().

The NBA has also attempted to distinguish itself from its competitors by marketing as not only a sporting enterprise but a charitable one as well. It does this through initiatives such as “Basketball Without Borders” and the NBA CARES program along with collaborations with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to promote the growth of global grassroots basketball.

Previously the NBA’s marketing efforts were primarily placed on individual players and athletes who had a certain pedigree of talent however, the NBA is now shifting focus toward a more holistic approach with more emphasis on more team building and leadership at its core () . Another trend to notice is the globalisation and diversification of the league itself. Over 108 international players from 42 countries and territories are currently playing in the NBA ().

This has subsequently led to the increase of overall global basketball fans. The increasing number of traffic to to nba.com recently shows this(). Due to the increasing number of fans and availability of worldwide talent the NBA markets are expected to continue to see steady growth throughout the coming years.

Despite modest TV ratings in the US, NBA games continue to be televised in more countries than ever before and in more languages than ever () also , in 2014, the the NBA renewed its lucrative 9-year contract with Walt Disney and Turner Networks for a sum of $24B() showing the league ability to continue to sustain revenue through sponsorship and deals


The following SWOT analysis shows the key strengths and weaknesses in the NBA and shows the potential oppotunites and threats it may face


  • Access to talent
  • Core leadership – in-depth industry experience and insight
  • Social responsibility initiatives – Basketball without borders, Read to Achieve, NBA CARES
  • Storied Franchises – New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, etc. Weaknesses
  • Anti-progressive outlook —strict anti-drug policies, salary cap restrictions, and numerous rules and regulations,
  • Weak properties — WNBA, NBADL
  • Previous marketing emphasis on individual players — Bird, Magic, Jordan
  • Athletes (and now, referees) are not angels


  • Global audiences
  • Diversification of athletes
  • Sustainable ticket sales Threats
  • Game formats not made for TV – risk of losing recreational target market
  • Bad PR – athletes’ legal problems

Long regular season

Risk of competitive icons/brands (Rodger Federer, Derek Jeter, Cristiano Ronaldo. )


  • Major League Baseball
  • National Football League
  • National Hockey League
  • Other Competitors (Fifa, MLS)

4 Keys to Success

In order for the NBA to truly sucseed as a global brand it must achieve some key factors fitsty by expanding the league to countries outside the United States and winning fans over from other sports in these countries.

Secondly, the NBA must ensure that its employees upheld a high standard of conduct and remain professional in their behaviour. If these keys to success are achieved, then the NBA will continue to be viewed as a premier sports league in the world. .

Historically, the NBA has faced a number of critical issues. Combination of racial slurs / prejudices as well as fights between athletes have occurred in have somewhat brought the league into disrepute. In 1999 Larry Platt describe the league as “those who stereotype the NBA players as thugs and drug users will find that their ideas are confirmed here (). In order to combat this, However, the league has introduced a vast number initiatives, enforcing a strict anti-drug policy

Hoever in order to cobat this , the league has responded demonstrating leadership through social responsibility, demanding a high standard of conduct from its employees, enforcing a strict anti-drug policy, and a salary

Also, very the implementation of the salary cap primarily exists as to be a balanced sharing mechanism for better distribution of pay between players

Also important to note is the importance of TV and casual audiences in the US. Although, TV ratings have slowly begun to pick up again, the NBA had faced a long battle with declining in viewership for some time, and league officials continue to downplay the rate of decrease of TV viewers of the game (). The decline in viewership can be partly attributed to the overall change in emphasise from “hero ball”, whereby one player single handily dominates or runs the show on a team to the more team orientated set up that exists currently

The graph bellow show us that NBA viewership as at its highest during the latter part of the Jordan years. It can be argued that Jordan knonw for his high flying ability () was a massive draw for fans ho anted to see him take on impossible odds, subsequently the lowest figures were to be found during the 2007 final. The Suprs, the team known for primarily being a team first unit () could not replicate the allure of the Jordan days

However with the current emergence of Super teams such as the Golden State Warriors, it seems that the casual fan is becoming more interested in watching games thereby giving the organisation a great foothold as it continues to move forward

Constantly monitor emerging markets in global territories ensuring that local fans are not disenfranchised and that growth strategy does not compromise fan’s experience and satisfaction levels

The NBA must also strive to interact more personally with the average fan

The NBA has already created a fan portal (website where fans interact and can set up communities) called Fan Voice. Additionally teams also occasionally host promotional and theme nights ith th, it has most recently created the “There can only be one” marketing campaign that highlighted constructive rivalries in the NBA and pitched a star player of one prominent team against that of another. The short advertisements ran through the length of the playoffs, and athletes spoke about their emotions while playing the game of basketball. For instance, Fear, Win, Dreams, Respect, and Remembrance were some of the emotions covered in the ads [19].

The NBA opened this campaign to its fans by giving them rich media and asking them to use it as they please. Some of the results of images created by fans are shown overleaf. NBA: A Case Study 8 Inspired by the campaign, and seizing on the political frenzy that accompanied the democratic primaries earlier in 2008, TIME magazine used the concept in the May 2008 issue of the magazine depicting the (now) Democratic presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. These images show that the NBA’s marketing campaign paid ividends in involving its fans and interacting with them more closely so as to build better relationships.

Mission The NBA’s mission [20] is to be the most successful and respected professional sports league in the world by focusing on 4 key elements integrity, teamwork, respect and innovation

Marketing Objectives

Conceivably, the NBA’s marketing objectives consistent with its mission could be drafted as follows:

  • Nielsen TV ratings
  • Number of ticket-holders and stadium/arena statistics Influx of International players into the NBA for upcoming season
  • Number of viewers in countries outside the United States

The following areas need to be monitored to gauge performance and efficacy of marketing activities:

Finally I believe that there are a few recommendations that can be made that could possibly aid the growth of the NBA in the long run:

Dedicate focus to online TV – with the ever growing potential of streaming and the decline in cable TV viewership the N would be best focusing it broadcasting efforts onto streaming sites especially if it wishes to continue to target a young demographic. already the ability to watch the finals on youtube () has proven very useful tool for those foreing fans ho might not neceicarrily have had the ability to watch the games

Continue prolific marketing focus using social networking (Facebook, MySpace, and twitter) tools aid further in community building and interaction between like-minded basketball fans

Increase transparency within Refereeing similar to the style used within the NFL

Reduce the 82-game regular season as ell ass implement a better seeding in playoffs for more intense early round match ups

Financial loss vs. Fines – Contractual realignment based on conduct for referees and team personnel with the possibility of losing a contract based on the seriousness of misconduct 2005 sa the implementation of a leaug ide dress code hich helped alter the image of the league, players coul no longer putch up to games in shorts and those onot plying in the game erereuired to wer correct clothing or be fined () policies like this ere implemented by the current nba commissioner Adam Silver Since taking the position of commissioner in 2014() As commissioner he understands the evolving trends of society and has taken a serious approach to technology and amplifying the overall experience of attending an NBA game(). Silver believes in innovation and in his short tenure has taken incredible strides to implement upgrades and changes to the collection& display of player data & analytics, the online streaming of NBA games, NBA applications, and the arenas in which games are played Silver also facilitated the creation of a mobile application, the NBA Gametime App, which allows subscribers to stream games live on their mobile devices and has received over 7.4 million downloads in a single season(). This application, along with its web-basedcounterpart, has amassed over 16.7 billionpage views since its implementation.

An International Presence: The NBA is a league filled with diversity. Players from all over the worldcan be found on each team, as international competition has become a major force in the world of basketball. As of 2015 there are 100 players from 37 countries outside of the United States currently playing for NBA teams.

Lativian born rookie, Kristaps Porzingis’ jersey sales reached fourth in the entire association, an unprecedented number for an international player in his first year in the league. Players such as Emmanuel Mudiay forgo their collegiate experience and head overseas in order to cover the one-year gap period required after high school in order for a player to enter the draft().

The NBA is perhaps the only true American sport with an international following. Its presence alone in China generates over $5.5 billionin revenue each year and approximately 150 million comes from this international following().

Each year the NBA has select teams play games in countries outside the U.S. such as Brazil, London, and Turkey to promote the league and further its international following () xxxv This international factor however is a double-edged sword. The Chinese Basketball Association has been drawing countless players from the NBA, offering lucrative contracts to aging stars such as Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith in attempt to lure them away from the NBA()

The National Basketball Association however, is well known to be the league with the highest level of competition. Players seeking to test their abilities against opponents at the highest level come the NBA in order to do so.


Cite this paper

Professional Basketball and Target Markets of NBA. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/professional-basketball-and-target-markets-of-nba/



What age group watches NBA the most?
The age group that watches NBA the most is between 18-34 years old. It is the most popular among millennials and younger generations.
What is the demographic of NBA fans?
The NBA has a wide range of fans, with the majority being between the ages of 18 and 34. However, the league has seen a recent increase in older fans.
What is the NBA's marketing strategy?
The NBA's marketing strategy is to grow the game of basketball globally and to provide fans with an immersive and engaging experience.
Who is the target market for the NBA?
National Basketball Association Target marketsNBA will majorly target the population aged 51 years to 67 years ofage . NBA will also target the population below 18 years. These twosegments are viable target markets where the organization can grow.
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