Five Ways the NBA is Educating Its UK Fanbase

This is a guest post by Emily Clark, Marketing Manager at Surrey Cricket.

American sports have infiltrated the European market in recent years. Both the NFL and NBA sell out fixtures in London year after year, with the latter filling the O2 arena within just minutes of going on-sale.

Whilst the NBA has a lot of educated fans in the UK, many of it’s following is based upon lifestyle and cultural factors, rather than the actual sport of basketball. Fashion, music – and to some extent film – have been synonymous with the NBA for some time.

Now, the sport is faced with the challenge of deepening the casual fan’s relationship with the league and furthering their understanding of the sport. Since the 2018 season tipped off, the NBA UK social media accounts have been doing a fantastic job of educating fans.

To start the season, the league shared a 60-second video that summarised the layout of the fixtures, the league structure and the team. It served as a hype video for fans familiar with the season already, but introduced casual fans into the details of the route to the NBA Finals.

‘On This Day’ is a simple, but effective way of making fans aware of the history and milestones of the league and sport. After all, fans pride themselves on nostalgia and wear their historic knowledge of the game as a badge of honour to show off to their friends. Giving new fans content they can learn from, and existing fans content they can brag about, is a win-win for the league.

After its opening month, the NBA reviewed the season so far, enabling fans to stay up to date with the teams, players and moments that mattered the most. Despite real-time social highlights and a strong broadcast package from BT Sport, the NBA is still relatively difficult to consume in the UK due to time zones. ‘The Wrap’ proves serves as a fantastic way to make the sport accessible, in a digestible, mobile-friendly way for fans watching from afar.

Highlights packages are a staple of broadcast television, and the expansion of such content into social media makes for shareable and engaging content. Highlights packages also ensure that fans can re-live big moments, as well as learn about moments they may have missed, conveniently in one place.

The NBA already has a huge relevance outside of the sport, but linking ‘influencers’ from outside of the sport is an excellent marketing tactic to educate fans about the sport. Giving fans insight into the NBA via iconic figures – whether that be sports stars, musicians, actors – that are not directly involved in the sport increases the reach of the league and can act as an ‘entry-mechanism’ to the sport.

The NBA has developed a dedicated fan base in the UK, and it is important that this audience is nurtured and evolved. Digital and social media presents a big opportunity to engage with fans, and make the league more accessible to fans living in the UK. On-court performances, scheduling and player access are three things that can not be controlled by the league this side of the Atlantic, but a positive, engaging and innovative social media strategy is certainly one that can.


Don’t miss next week’s event that includes the NBA, alongside NFL UK, talking about US sports in the UK marketplace. Still a few spaces left to fill…

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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