Tuesday , Oct , 14 , 2008 Oly Sandor

The NBA’s top five international markets: Australia, Brazil, India, Europe, and China

A plan to globalize was set. No continent was left untouched. Today, with an economic downturn looming, these international markets will provide much-needed revenue to cushion slowing demand for the NBA in America. The game of basketball no longer belongs to the USA. Neither does the business of basketball. Some form of expansion into Europe is coming. The NBA is also building stadiums in China, foreshadowing a sister league …


The NBA's top five international markets: Australia, Brazil, India, Europe, and ChinaEvery week, HoopsVibe The Blog drops a basketball related list for fans to debate. We call it ‘Listed’ …

Sixteen years ago, the business of basketball was good. Stars named Larry, Magic, and Michael changed the NBA brand in America. The Finals were no longer on tape delay; under their watch the league became a multi-billion dollar industry.

After conquering the States, the suits at NBA head office went global. First up, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. No mercy was shown. Team USA took first place and reclaimed its perch atop the basketball world.

Looking back, the gold medal wasn’t the prize. Every American player was mobbed, given rock star treatment on foreign soil. The overseas adventure confirmed Commissioner Stern’s hunch that the world wanted the NBA.

A plan to globalize was set. No continent was left untouched. Today, with an economic downturn looming, these international markets will provide much-needed revenue to cushion slowing demand for the NBA in America.

The game of basketball no longer belongs to the USA. Neither does the business of basketball. Some form of expansion into Europe is coming. The NBA is also building stadiums in China, foreshadowing a sister league.

In this edition of ‘Listed’, HoopsVibe examines five international markets the NBA is eyeing to boost revenues. Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.   

#5) Australia 

Pluses: ‘Aussies’ love sports. And their basketball fans have discretionary income to spend. Best of all, the ‘Land Down Under’ has produced two NBA players in Andrew Bogut and Nathan Jawai. A third is coming with guard Pattie Mills.   

Minuses (well, sort of): They have an established domestic league called the NBL, which loses money. So an NBA-NBL partnership makes sense. The NBA would get a foothold into a new market, while the NBL would have access to cash.

#4) Brazil

Pluses: Basketball is big in South America. Brazil has a hoops tradition, producing international legend Oscar Schmidt and Phoenix’s Leandro Barbosa and Denver’s Nene Hilario. Brazil possesses the economic might to support exhibition games and buy merchandise.

Minuses: A wide gap exists between the rich and poor, which complicates any business relationship.

#3) India 

Pluses: India has ‘A Billi’-as in a billion people to buy NBA products, goods, and watch games. They also possess the world’s largest democracy, which will solidify its budding economy.

Minuses: The South Asian country loves field hockey and cricket, but there is little basketball culture. The NBA would need to invest time, money, and effort. The payoff could be lucrative considering ‘Bollywood’, India’s film industry, regularly out-grosses Hollywood.  

#2) Europe 

Pluses: Parts of Europe are basketball mad. They have excellent youth programs and professional leagues. With many Euros balling in America, their population is also aware of the NBA.

Stern knows this market well. Europe Live, the league’s exhibition series against top clubs, is an annual event. The push will continue at the London Olympics in 2012 and some form of expansion or a European Division has been discussed.

Minuses: Well, geography. Europe is hours away by plane. Also, each country has its own separate professional league and these organizations don’t like collaborating. Finally, European basketball is still viewed as unprofessional. Stories of owners withholding pay and poor player accommodation is common. The situation is improving with a stronger currency and influx of ‘Petro’ dollars.

#1) China 

Pluses: Over one billion people. And ratings for the Yao-Yi duel left no doubt China loves basketball. The upside is obvious. Right now, the NBA is cementing a partnership to build and manage arenas in China. This means an affiliate league is coming –and soon.

Minuses: Again, geography. And there are concerns about the government’s human rights record. Both are mitigated by China’s future as the world’s economic power.   

Where will the NBA go next? Where is the NBA’s top new market? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of bugsage.