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Examining the NBA's massive social-media growth over the last year

Examining the NBA's massive social-media growth over the last year

In 2022, the NBA was once again the most-viewed and most-engaged pro sports league on social media, generating 29.4 billion video views across all platforms.

As we've covered in the past, the NBA has become something of a social-media juggernaut. 

The NBA has more followers than the other major U.S. pro sports leagues combined, and the league continues to experience massive growth year-over-year.

Last year, the NBA added more than 25 million followers across its social-media accounts, including more than 11 million followers on Instagram alone. 

The NBA recently surpassed 75 million followers on Instagram, making it the eighth-most followed brand on the platform (and easily the most-followed U.S. pro sports league). As of March 8, the NBA has 77.1 million followers on IG.

The NBA also surpassed 20 million subscribers on YouTube in 2022. 

This season, fans have watched the NBA’s YouTube content for more than 87 million hours. To put this number in context, that’s a 17% increase over this same span last season and a whopping 329% increase over the same stretch of the 2018-19 season.

In 2022, the NBA also experienced its biggest social week in league history, generating 1.1 billion video views across all platforms and the NBA app from Dec. 25 through Dec. 31.

“It’s about optimizing content for the platform that we’re on — not just spraying the same piece of content across all of our platforms, but really optimizing for each platform, nurturing that fan base and giving them exactly what they want,” Kevin Esteves, the NBA’s associate vice president of digital strategy and analytics, told Basketball News last year. “That’s sort of been key in our recipe for success.”

So far during the 2022-23 season, the NBA has generated 14.4 billion views across its social platforms (a 49% increase over last season). Across the NBA app, NBA.com and connected devices, the NBA has generated 794 million video views (a 195% increase over last season).

“When you think about social media when it first started, a lot of brands were in the business of driving people back to their website or other offerings, whereas I think we’ve always had the directive from our executives to optimize for the platform we’re on and nurture engagement there,” Esteves explained. 

“At first, it was a very big marketing platform for us, but now, social drives just about every business objective that we have… Globally, I think you’re starting to see more and more sports leagues embrace a similar approach, being on multiple platforms and [creating specific] content that they make available on those platforms to engage fans and ultimately increase the reach of the sport.”

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