The NBA’s Popularity Among Milleniels Should Have Led to A Higher Selling Price for the Hawks, Bruce Levenson
There is a whole lot of debate going on these days about the popularity of Major League sports in the Unites States. Some say that baseball is on the decline, while data shows that baseball’s popularity is surging. The NFL continues to dominate in a very specific way — sky-high TV ratings during NFL Sundays. But the NBA is doing something that neither of the former leagues are doing; appealing to younger age groups.
The game of basketball suits the younger generation, especially in the age of social media. The game is fast paced, played by Adonis-like athletes, high-flying, loud, and the games don’t last very long; an average of two hours as compared to the NFL and MLB’s three-hour games. It is the perfect entertainment in the instant gratification world.
You add this to a young, vibrant community of basketball players that utilize social media to promote their own personal brands, and you get engagement. Young people flock to keep up with their favorite player’s daily thoughts and that only helps to promote the game to younger demographics.
And basketball, more than any other sport, is a one-on-one game. One franchise player can change the fortunes of an entire city. One player can make the difference between a playoff berth and a losing season. Even the NBA’s rules promote individual player takeovers. Defenses are prohibited from loading up on one player before he touches the ball, which almost guarantees that the star will be in the limelight on every play. This sets up an me-against-you mentality that feeds into the games popularity with the younger crowd.
When a millennial’s favorite player is matched up against another superstar, those fans become the stars. They argue “My guy is going to beat your guy tonight,” and by proxy, they are really saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” This adversarial camaraderie on social networks only feeds the NBA machine. Young people flock to their own social media platforms to brag, drawing others into the debate over who picks the best players. This makes the NBA more visible to a younger generation than football and baseball.
This is why the future of the NBA looks bright. While the NFL and MLB’s fan base continues to get older, the NBA’s fan base remains age-consistent. The NBA is doing a good job of recruiting young fans, and those young fans stay fans throughout their lives. While football and baseball’s popularity are still higher than the NBA’s popularity, the future looks brighter for basketball. And this is something that Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports should have taken into account when they sold the Hawks for Bruce Levenson.
Levenson raked in $730 million, much lower than a projected value of $1 billion. The former owner of the Hawks hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to broker the sale. While Levenson will walk away with an enormous profit, perhaps the firms could have done better projecting what should be a healthy future for the game, the team and the NBA.