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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

NBA Online in China: The Breakdown

The NBA 2015-2016 season was filled with records, great games, and breakout stars. From Steph Curry breaking his own record of most 3-pointers in a season, Kobe Bryant’s retirement, to LeBron bringing home a championship to his hometown, the year was a huge success for the league. Let’s break down the rest of the NBA, and see how your favourite team fared on Weibo. Data was taken from June 1st 2016 – July 1st 2016.

Most and Least Followed

Golden State Warriors are the #1 online in China with 2.4+ million followers. Their form over the last two years is a major reason behind their social following online in China, and with their main star Stephen Curry also reaching 2.1 million Weibo followers, it is not a surprise that the Warriors are #1.  The Phoenix Suns are at the bottom of the rankings with under 10,000 followers. This is a massive gap between the Suns and the Warriors and should be an area to address.

No One Bigger Than NBA The NBA is the most followed sports organisation on Weibo with over 32 million followers. They are basketball in China. With this total domination over the sport, it’s clear to see why their following is far greater than any of the individual European football leagues.

Top 5 vs. Bottom 5

There is a huge gap between the top and bottom NBA teams. The top 5 teams (Warriors, Lakers, Rockets, Cavaliers and Clippers) have on average around 1.95 million fans on Weibo. Meanwhile, the bottom 5 most followed teams (Suns, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Celtics and Grizzlies) have on average just 14,000 fans.

Growth in Playoff Season

Out of the top 9 fastest growing NBA teams on Weibo in June, 8 were in the playoffs. The team that was not in the playoffs? The Lakers and this is because of a player announcing his retirement, and his name is Kobe Bryant. The playoffs bring a lot of attention to NBA teams and the organization as a whole. It is important particularly in the playoffs to have the support of your fans, so constant social media engagement is key.

Predicted movements

With the signing of Kevin Durant for the Warriors and Cleveland keeping their core (Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love) intact, we’re going to see these two teams continue to dominate Weibo next season. With the Houston Rockets drafting Zhou Qi in the NBA draft, we can also expect the Rockets to continue to grow online. Meanwhile, more focus will be needed on the bottom 5 teams who are a long way behind their rivals.

With the Cavs and Warriors stealing the show the last month of the season, it goes to show that playoff presence does have a strong influence on a team’s Weibo presence. With NBA free agency underway and in full force, it will be interesting to see how the impact of players swapping jerseys will impact their teams Weibo following during the off season.

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