From Japanese Aikido to dwarf-tossing in Australia
– when it comes to sport, the world is anything
but a global village.
Half the planet is crazy about football – but
in Austria, the most popular sport is alpine
skiing, in Bhutan archery, and in Mongolia
Wrestling.In the US, most people like American
football – followed by basketball and baseball.
Only few American Sports fans watch football,
or soccer, how they call it.
A glance at China: Table tennis and badminton
are the most popular sports – followed by
basketball and football.If you look at global
statistics, football is unchallenged at the
top with about four billion fans.
But another ball game has turned into a lucrative
and rapidly growing export hit – responsible
for billion-euro deals in broadcasting rights
and sportswear: basketball.
The game is expected to have more than 800
million fans around the globe.Baseball, supposedly
America’s most popular hobby, is growing slowlycompared
to Basketball in terms of viewership and revenues.
Steffan Heuer lays out some explanations as
to why in a story for German business magazine
Brand Eins:Complicated set of rules, hour-long
matches, an endless season, and a lack of
Superstars from different countries.Ingredients
that make up a successful sport.Historically,
Baseball is a simple game of racquetball,
which many cultures of the world have played
in one form or another for centuries: One
player throws, one hits, the others try to
run to score points.
Cricket sends its regards.But in its current
form, Baseball is anything but simple.
The official rule book of the Major League
Baseball in the US has 188 pages and is about
as exciting to read as the repair instructions
ofa portable radio.
Hardly anyone immediately understands whose
turn it is and when, and what tricky moves
each team makes to fill the bases with players
and score points over nine innings.To make
matters worse, each team plays 162 games in
the six-month season, which means an average
of 27 matchdays per month until the final
This final round is incorrectly called the
“World Series”, although only teams from North
America are entered.
Sittingthrough almost one game a day for months
requires a lot of patience,even from the most
dedicated fans.The official MLB rules run
Compare that to the NBA’s rulebook with
only 68 pages.The game of basketball explains
itself: Two teams fight a battle, just like
football or ice hockey.
They try to bring the ball into the opponent’s
territory with rapid attacks to shoot hoops.Baseball
fans consider the lack of excitement to be
a great advantage of the sport.
Sports journalist Stephanie Apstein wrote
in”Sports Illustrated”: “Baseball is best
enjoyed as the soundtrack tosomething else.
It’s a perfect sport to watch as you catch
up with afriend, as you read a book, as you
drift off on a Sunday afternoon.”A basketball
game is different.
The regular game has 48 minutes of playing
time – with many interruptions, it can usually
be an hour and a half to a maximum of two
And that’s it.
On the other hand, with Baseball, you have
to be prepared for at least two to three hours.
The longest game ever in 1981 lasted eightand
a half hours and was played over two days.
Fans often turn the matches into “tailgate”
parties, including a grill that they bring
along and fire up right by their pickup’s
tailgate.Basketball is completely different:
simple rules on a compact battlefield plus
quick attacks and counter-attacks.
A game that sells well.
The NBA recognized this early on and targeted
one of theworld’s largest markets: China.
Unlike other western things, the sport was
also popular during the Cultural Revolution.
The NBA, therefore, explicitly invested in
the Chinese market for decades.The breakthrough
came in 2002 when the Houston Rockets signed
Yao Ming of the Shanghai Sharks.
He played for the Rockets for 9 years and
made them the most popular basketball team
The local marketing was tightly organized
by the NBA: It set up a China Division, including
its own office in Beijing.
The NBA installed about 800,000 baskets in
Chinese villages to inspire the youth and
sent well-known players on nationwide tours.The
In 2020, an estimated 300 million people are
playing basketball in China.
Ten percent of the NBA’s revenues will come
from China — by 2030, that number will double
to 20 percent..The NBA has licensed its games
and additional content worldwide in 50 languages.
Nearly a third of its streaming subscribers
are based in Asia.
Between 2015 and 2020, the Chinese internet
giant Tencent has paid two billion dollars
for the digital rights to basketball games
– that are watched by half a billion Chinese.
No wonder that the co-founder of the Chinese
internet company Alibaba, acquired theBrooklyn
Nets in 2019.Next, the NBA has India in its
In 2011 it opened its first office in Mumbai
and signed an exclusive contract with the
sports channel Sony Six the following year.
Popular US players are sent on promotional
trips together with Indian pop stars.
“Social media is away we’ve been able
to infiltrate those markets very quickly with
young people in particular living on Social
Media,” said (NBA Boss) Adam Silver.Basketball
is a money-making machine: the 30 teams in
the NBA had sales of around 8.8 billion dollars
in the 2018/19 season, an average of 293 million
dollars per team.
But the top teams earn muchmore: the New York
Knicks came in at $472m, followed by the Golden
State Warriors and the LA Lakers.The NCAA’s
college championship games, which go by March
Madness, alone – a level below the NBA – brought
in a good $900 million in TVadvertising for
the association and clubs.Each of the 30 teams
in the MLB, on the other hand, brought in
an average of 330 million dollars in revenues.
However, the teams have to compete almost
twice as often as teams in the NBA – a full
2,430 times per season.
This is why the association’s total turnover
is slightly higher, at 9.9 billion dollars.
Basketball has one big advantage over baseball:
superstars that are known around the world.
Dirk Nowitzki; Yao Ming; Michael Jordan; Stephen
Curry; Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.More
and more basketball players come from abroad
and therefore havefans all over the world.
In the 2019/2020 season, there were 108 non-American
players from 38 countries.The top basketball
players in the USA are among the top earners
in sport worldwide.
LeBron James is in the lead with $37 million
in salary and $55 million in sponsorship income,
followed by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.In
contrast, the best baseball players are mostly
unknown outside the US.
This even applies to the players of big teams
such as the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles
Dodgers, or the San Francisco Giants.
Their sponsorship contracts are consequently
smaller.Top earner Mike Trout – ever heard
of him? – of the LA Angels has anannual income
of 36 million dollars, but he only earns an
additionalthree million dollars in sponsoring.
Baseball has not yet managed todevelop a market
beyond North America and parts of East Asia.
This also means that not too many people watch
baseball outside those geographies.
What’s more, it limits the talent the league
can attract as players.Even in the country
of origin, the US, interest in baseball is
Fewer people come to the games, and the World
Series championship viewership has fallen
continuously since 2016.
In contrast, the Superbowl was watched by
nearly 100 million people in the US alone
in 2020 – plus 50 to 65 million people in
around 130 other countries.
According to Fifa, more than 1 billion people
watched the final of the 2018 World Cup between
France and Croatia.Basketball is also ahead
of baseball in terms of merchandising.
If you get yourself a pair of shoes, a jersey,
and a ball, you can get started on one of
the many courts around the corner, while baseball
requires larger and more expensive equipment
with a bat, glove, and more – not to mention
a marked field, which is rarely found outside
America.Accordingly, global sales of the sports
shoes worn by basketball stars are high.
Since the 1980s, the collecting mania has
given riseto a separate subculture of “sneakerheads”
– driven by “Air Jordan” shoes.
In 2016, for example, the shoes of Warriors
player Steph Curry generated sales of 160
million dollars, those of LeBron James another
150 million.The NBA changed the license holder
for its “official” merch from Adidas to Nike
Nike paid one billion dollars to the NBA forthis
and also has sponsorship contracts with numerous
According to industry estimates, Nike controls
around 90 percent of the American market for
Experts peg the global market for basketball
accessories at $13.2 billion, that for baseball
articles at only $8.1 billion.Obviously, the
NBA is well-positioned for the future.
The number of spectators and revenues are
rising.On the one hand, it is the fast and
easy to understand game that is better to
market than, for example, baseball.
On the other hand, the
NBA’s expansive marketing plan to China and
India shows that the spectator and revenue
numbers will look good in the coming years.What
do you prefer – Basketball or Baseball – and
why?If you like our channel – subscribe and
turn on notifications.If you love this channel
– Become a Patron – On Patreon.
Link is below this video.