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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

NBA Red Card 2023: China Digital Performance Index


Today is the release of the seventh edition of the NBA Red Card: China Digital Performance Index from Mailman, a 160over90 company. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the digital performance of NBA teams, players, and legends throughout the past 12 months in China. The report also provides a guide to broader NBA digital trends, interests, and insights.

The opening up of China in January this year provided a window of opportunity for grassroots and village basketball to thrive. More than 30 star players and legends returned to China throughout this past summer, uniting millions of fans both in-person and online. Teams, players, and NBA China embraced AI and the next generation of content creators, demonstrating that basketball in China is as popular as ever.

The sport is also being welcomed by new generations of Chinese fans and players. Social media and streaming platforms are helping connect fans with the game in new and innovative ways, with younger players especially drawn to the sport’s excitement and athleticism.

Download the Report here

The Winners:

🏆 Golden State Warriors is the most popular NBA team online.

🏆 Steph Curry is the most popular NBA star on Weibo.

🏆 James Harden is the most popular NBA star on Douyin.

🏆 Bradley Beal is the most popular NBA star on Kuaishou.


Most Popular NBA Teams Online in China:

🥇 Golden State Warriors

🥈 LA Lakers

🥉 Brooklyn Nets

💡 The Warriors maintained their position by once again dominating in engagement. Continuing to provide their fans with premium content, the team finished top three in every Red Card metric. They saw strong social activity around hosting Chinese star Eileen Gu, who visited their practice facility and attended a game. The two videos they posted on Douyin performed best, reaching nearly 200k likes compared to only 126k likes on Kuaishou.


Most Popular NBA Stars on Weibo:

🥇 Steph Curry

🥈 Klay Thompson

🥉 James Harden

💡 Last season, Curry’s account was buoyed by auto-generated content related to his accomplishments and accolades throughout the season. Though two posts in particular drove his popularity with 154k engagements when he interacted with Song Yihong, a young Chinese basketball star who emulates Curry’s skills and wears the #30.


Most Popular NBA Stars on Douyin:

🥇 James Harden

🥈 Keldon Johnson

🥉 Luka Doncic (Represented by WME)

💡 James Harden retained his top spot on Douyin through active posting and impressive engagement metrics, with his total engagement being more than double Keldon Johnson who holds the number-two spot. His top-performing content amplified the inspiring story of John Hao, a 20-year-old Chinese student at Michigan State University who was injured in a tragic mass shooting on campus in February. Harden, learning about Hao’s situation, offered heartfelt support, donated funds, personally Facetimed John to provide encouragement, and sent him a pair of signed shoes. The video received 305k likes on Harden’s Douyin account.


Most Popular NBA Stars on Kuaishou:

🥇 Bradley Beal

🥈 Austin Reaves

🥉 Mo Bamba

💡 Bradley Beal burst onto the scene for Kuaishou during the NBA Playoffs. He quickly became the best performing NBA athlete through an effective launch video directly addressing Chinese basketball fans, a livestream in collaboration with famous basketball influencers, entertaining on-court highlights, and a shoutout during the Dragon Boat festival.

Justin Tan, Managing Director, Mailman:The return of NBA players and legends to China to meet their fans this year highlights the appetite from both sides – the stars wanted to reconnect with their passionate fanbase whilst the supporters were eager to interact with their heroes in-person after years apart. From digital innovations and AI adoption to increased corporate social responsibility initiatives, the NBA continues to push the boundaries and grow the league’s popularity in China.”

Ed Horne, President, 160over90: “The NBA’s continued popularity in China, paired with the sport’s rising global influence, is a testament to the incredible work from all those involved, both on the court and online. Western sports organsations must have their finger firmly on the pulse of what’s trending now and next to maximize their IP and content in China’s fast developing digital world. As our report shows once again, the NBA and its players have unlocked the value of embracing China’s digital landscape.

About​ ​Mailman

Founded in China in 1999, Mailman has evolved to become Asia’s leading sports digital agency. We are digital marketers who help sports rights holders enhance their local brand equity and create sustainable presences. We exist at the intersection of digital & technology, helping the world’s biggest sports, entertainment & lifestyle brands build successful businesses in international growth markets. Mailman is part of 160over90, Endeavor’s full-service cultural marketing agency.

Contact​ ​Information:

Denis Green

+86 16602182243

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