NBA’s top followed Stars on Weibo vs Top Jerseys sold on Tmall
With the NBA season to a close, let’s take a look at who was the most popular in the media, and who killed it in jersey sales?
The charm of a jersey
Jerseys are the top item of merchandise, and in the United States, fans usually wear the jerseys of the players from their hometown team. Though in China, fans typically do not have a “hometown team”, so it is then up to the player and organization to develop a presence in the Chinese sports market, with the easiest way through social media.
Surprised not seeing LeBron James on the left side of list? He is currently the biggest basketball and even sports star without an online presence in China. He has a great opportunity to leverage the Cavs’ recent success and make a splash in China, but this starts with launching a Weibo account, the foundation that many athletes have already established.
NBA stock dropping, China influence still strong
Metta World Peace, formerly known as “Ron Artest”, is the 9th most followed active NBA star on Weibo, a surprise inclusion. Though, with World Peace signing with Sichuan Blue Whales for a short stint in 2014-2015, the Chinese population quickly had developed a liking for World Peace’s charisma.
Who nailed it?
Kobe Bryant. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past couple decades you know who Kobe is. The classic fadeaway of Kobe is seen from the playground in Brooklyn to the pick-up games seen in Shanghai. He is the #2 most followed player on Weibo and also has the #2 highest total of jerseys sold. Kobe Bryant is one of a kind in China.
Who will be where next year?
With Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors, and with their current huge following online in China, Durant has the opportunity to move up both lists in terms of jerseys sold and online followers.