The King has arrived in Los Angeles, the offseason is over, and NBA basketball is back in our lives.
Over the offseason, basketball’s top players took to social to build their brands beyond the hardwood. With a following more than double the size of any other player, LeBron James continues to outpace the league in terms of engagement and audience.
The biggest winners, however, may not have been the league’s seasoned vets. Several of the up-and-coming young stars —specifically Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, and Ben Simmons — were able to capture momentum from their early on-court success to build strong followings and share their offseason experiences with their audience.
As a whole, the NBA’s most-followed stars outpace their peers in major U.S. sports, including the NFL, in terms of audience size, activity, total engagements, and growth. The players are catching up with and even surpassing their teams’ efforts on social. With nearly 100 million total engagements, LeBron more than doubled the closest performance of the most engaging team, the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State led the league and players in total video views, with LeBron coming in second. He topped the second-place team, his Lakers, in views — 68 million to 45 million — despite sharing just 21 videos to the Lakers’ 486.
While LeBron is an outlier even for NBA players, he illustrates the league’s power on social. 50 of basketball’s top players surpassed one million video views and 66 produced more than one million engagements. The NBA may very well be the most athlete-driven league in American sports, and there’s no slowing down in sight.
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The NBA’s athlete-driven MVPs
Below is the performance analysis for the NBA’s 50 most-followed players on social. We break down the data by audience, activity, engagement, and growth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from June 8, 2018, to October 16, 2018. These are the NBA’s strongest brands on social.