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From Social Media Dominance to Chinese Growth, the NBA Has Never Been Bigger

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Welcome to the latest episode of the Full-Court Finance podcast from Zacks Investment Research. On this week’s episode, Ben Rains discusses the business of basketball as the NBA Finals, featuring LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, heats up. From strong TV ratings during the 2017-18 season to continued social media growth throughout the world, the NBA looks like a league poised to dominate for decades to come.

The NBA saw its national television ratings climb during the regular season across the league’s television-network partners, which includes Disney’s DIS ABC and ESPN, and Turner’s TWX TNT. Meanwhile, local TV ratings jumped as well on outlets such as Comcast (CMCSA - Free Report) and Fox Sports FOXA. This all comes in contrast to the NFL’s ratings declines over the last two years.

Viewers and investors should also note that the NBA secured its first-ever presenting sponsor for the NBA Finals, with Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube TV featured throughout the broadcast in an array of ways. Going forward, the NBA’s close relationships with the likes of Google and other streaming services could play a huge role in its future success.

But it’s not just the NBA’s TV partners benefiting from the league’s growth, the likes of General Electric GE, Western Union WU, Fitbit FIT, Goodyear GT, and many more have joined in on the fun. And this comes on top of the major investments American Express AXP, Anheuser Busch InBev BUD, and PepsiCo PEP continue to make.

Furthermore, Nike NKE looks poised to benefit from its new NBA partnership that might see it remain in business with the league for a long, long time—especially as the likes of Adidas ADDYY and Under Armour UAA become less relevant in the world of basketball.

The NBA is already much bigger than nearly every sports league in the world on Instagram FB and Twitter TWTR. It has also established a strong relationship with Amazon AMZN through multiple Twitch streaming deals, which includes the rights to the league’s brand new esports league it developed with Take-Two Interactive TTWO.

Looking ahead, the NBA’s growth in China—through partnerships with Tencent TCEHY and Weibo WB—will be intriguing to follow.

As a reminder, if you feel that we missed something, or if you have any topic suggestions, shoot us an email at Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

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