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Why The NBA's Global Business Is On The Rise

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Welcome to the latest episode of Full-Court Finance, the podcast from Zacks Investment Research focused on the intersection of sports, business, and the stock market. On this week’s episode, we explore the growing international business of the NBA at the halfway point of the 2017-18 season.

Last season, NBA attendance hit a new high for the third year in a row. This year, television ratings are up as much as 25% on ESPN and TNT, while the NFL’s linear TV struggles draw near-constant headlines.

The NBA’s multibillion-dollar media rights deals with Disney (DIS - Free Report) and Time Warner helped lift the league’s salary cap almost single-handedly. The league also tipped off its new Nike (NKE - Free Report) jersey sponsorship deal this season, which not only marked a 245% increase from the previous deal with Adidas (ADDYY - Free Report) , but also led the NBA to add sponsorship patches on jerseys for the first time.

Japanese tech power Rakuten RKUNY reportedly shelled out $20 million per year to sponsor the Golden State Warriors, while the likes of Goodyear (GT - Free Report) , General Electric (GE - Free Report) , Fitbit (FIT - Free Report) , eBay’s (EBAY - Free Report) online ticket giant StubHub have also jumped on the first major U.S. jersey sponsorship deal.

Meanwhile, at a time when the average NFL and MLB fan is getting older, the NBA has been able to keep the average age of its fans down. This has been driven in part by a push on social media, where the NBA outpaces the NFL on both Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) and Instagram (FB - Free Report) in terms of followers.

The league also recently announced a new partnership with Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) Twitch streaming service as it explores the possibilities of a streaming future. What’s more, through a partnership with Take-Two Interactive (TTWO - Free Report) , the NBA is set to become the first major North American professional sport with its own esports league later this year.

The league and its management have also focused a lot of resources to expand the NBA outside of the U.S., and this effort has helped the NBA become increasingly popular in the world’s second-largest economy, China. But the NBA’s popularity in China might just be heating up as the league continues its attempt to become an expanding global sports powerhouse. 

If you have any questions about this episode of Full-Court Finance please feel free to shoot us an email over at podcast@zacks.com. Please also make sure to check out all of our other podcasts at zacks.com/podcast, and remember to subscribe and leave a rating on iTunes.

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