Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Basketball market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Overall, 36% of consumers follow basketball; however, that fandom heavily skews younger – 40% of Millennials and 46% of Gen Z follow the sport. Gen Z consumers follow basketball more than any other generation, and it is the number one sport followed by Gen Z overall.

COVID-19 necessitated new methods of engagement with fans while the NBA and WNBA played their seasons in the “bubble” environment. While in-person attendance is resuming, these new methods are here to stay, and teams should look to expand their virtual offerings.

Despite the growing popularity of basketball, men’s basketball ratings are on the decline, just like television ratings a whole. Regular season games, playoffs and the NBA Finals all have taken hits since 2019. However, despite fewer people watching, the overall share of audience actually increased compared to 2019 as overall primetime viewership is down 23%, indicating that the NBA remains one of the biggest television draws available, just less people are watching television in general.

Basketball popularity as a whole is on the rise; within the sport, the segment with the most room for growth is women’s basketball. Over one third of consumers follow basketball, but only one in 10 consumers follows either the WNBA or women’s college basketball. Thus, women’s basketball has significant untapped growth potential. Women’s basketball fandom on a national, visible level remains young, and as a result it is capable of significant growth. Brands looking to partner with women’s basketball can help launch it to new heights and thus capitalize on the increased fandom along the way.

Read on to discover more about the US Basketball in America consumer market, read our US Golf, Tennis & Auto Racing Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the basketball market.
  • How consumers engage with and follow basketball.
  • The importance of investing in women’s basketball.
  • The future trends set to take hold in basketball.
  • Basketball research and basketball industry trends.

Covered in this report

Brands include: WNBA, NBA, Budweiser, ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Prime Video, CarMax, Nike, Deloitte, AT&T, Google, State Farm, SeatGeek, American Express, Glossier, Nickelodeon, Bally Sports West, GQ Sports, Jordan Brand, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, SportsCenter, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marvel, TSN, Geico, Novant Health, Dove Men+Care, Louis Vuitton, Gifford’s Ice Cream, Bally’s, Burger King, Fortnite.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Sports sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Out of any US sport, basketball may have the strongest reasons for optimism. The sport now trails only football in overall fan following, having surpassed baseball for second place. It has a strong following among younger generations, with more Gen Z fans following basketball than any other sport. Along with growing international interest and increasing investment in women’s basketball, the sport is positioned for continued growth ahead.

Colin O’Brien, Sports Analyst
Colin O’Brien
Sports Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas:
        • Definition
          • Economic and other assumptions
            • COVID-19: US context
            • Executive Summary

                • Top takeaways
                  • The basketball halo effect remains strong
                    • The games around basketball offer additional integration opportunities
                      • Social issues are a priority for the basketball world
                        • Market overview
                          • Figure 1: Sports fandom by sport, 2021
                        • Impact of COVID-19 on basketball
                          • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on basketball, 2021
                        • Opportunities and challenges
                          • The NBA continues to grow basketball internationally, which leads to new opportunities
                              • Figure 3: Budweiser Brazil original NBA content
                            • Technology revolutionizes fans’ return to in-person sporting events
                              • Invest in women’s basketball
                                • Figure 4: CarMax NBA and WNBA integration
                              • Men’s basketball faces a ratings decline, but digital shows signs for optimism
                              • The Market – Key Takeaways

                                • Basketball only trails football for fan following
                                  • The NBA’s appeal continues to grow internationally
                                    • Technology facilitates the new in-person fan experience
                                    • The Basketball Landscape

                                      • Market OpportunitiesMarket overview
                                        • Figure 5: Sports fandom by sport, 2021
                                        • Figure 6: Basketball league fandom, 2021
                                        • Figure 7: Women’s college basketball ratings success
                                      • Impact of COVID-19 on basketball
                                      • Market Factors

                                        • The NBA continues to grow basketball internationally, which leads to new opportunities
                                            • Figure 8: Budweiser Brasil original NBA content
                                          • Technology revolutionizes fans’ return to in-person sporting events
                                            • Figure 9: Rockets autonomous robot food and beverage service
                                          • Basketball arenas leaders in sustainability
                                            • NBA star a leader for mental wellbeing among all professional athletes
                                            • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                              • Glossier embraces the individuality and authenticity of the WNBA
                                                • Women’s basketball investment should be a priority
                                                  • Appeal to new audiences through themed broadcasts
                                                  • Competitive Strategies

                                                    • Jordan Brand adds WNBA players to bring influence on and off the court
                                                      • Figure 10: Jordan brand female roster
                                                    • Pepsi’s Mountain Dew adopts high-profile strategy with LeBron and ASG
                                                      • Glossier embraces the individuality and authenticity of the WNBA
                                                        • Figure 11: Glossier WNBA partnership
                                                    • Market Opportunities

                                                      • Invest in women’s basketball
                                                        • Figure 12: Lack of women’s basketball coverage, by generation, 2021
                                                        • Figure 13: NCAA Tournament discrepancies
                                                        • Figure 14: CarMax NBA and WNBA integration
                                                      • NFTs offer more than just NBA Top Shot for basketball
                                                        • Figure 15: NBA Summer League Top Shot offering
                                                      • Themed broadcasts can appeal to new audiences and capitalize on outside interests
                                                        • Figure 16: Marvel-themed NBA broadcast
                                                      • Both the NBA and WNBA should (and will) look to expansion
                                                      • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                                        • The future is bright for basketball
                                                          • The basketball halo effect remains strong
                                                            • The games around basketball offer additional integration opportunities
                                                              • Social issues are a priority for the basketball world
                                                              • Exploring Basketball Fans

                                                                • Basketball is positioned for continued growth
                                                                  • Figure 17: Sports fandom, by sport, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 18: Basketball league fandom, 2021
                                                                • Basketball remains focused on growing its next generation of fans
                                                                  • Figure 19: Sports fandom, by sport, by generation, 2021
                                                                • Female basketball fandom can, and should, grow; continued investment can help achieve it
                                                                  • Figure 20: Sports fandom, by sport, by gender, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 21: All-female TSN broadcast
                                                                • Basketball supports a strong multicultural audience
                                                                  • Figure 22: Sports fandom, by sport, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 23: Japanese-specific Washington Wizards Twitter account
                                                                • Appealing to the basketball non-fan
                                                                  • Figure 24: Barriers to basketball fandom, by generation, 2021
                                                              • Following the Action on the Court

                                                                • Following the action of basketball
                                                                  • Figure 25: Methods for following basketball, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 26: Inside the NBA appeal
                                                                • Basketball and its fans rely heavily on social media
                                                                  • Figure 27: Top three reasons for using social media to follow basketball, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 28: Social media sharing, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 29: Social media brand integration
                                                                • Utilize virtual experiences to better engage all fans
                                                                  • Figure 30: Virtual experiences, 2021
                                                              • Cultivating Fandom

                                                                • The basketball halo effect
                                                                  • Figure 31: Basketball halo effect, 2021
                                                                • Fans support their team through merchandise and brand partnerships
                                                                  • Figure 32: Value of team sponsorships, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 33: WNBA jerseys
                                                                  • Figure 34: Phoenix Suns mascot endorsement deal
                                                                • Look to players for content and partnerships
                                                                  • Figure 35: Extra content, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 36: Value of player sponsorships, 2021
                                                                  • Figure 37: Dove Men+Care basketball partnerships promoting social issues
                                                                • Across industries, opportunities exist within basketball
                                                                  • Figure 38: Marketing in basketball, 2021
                                                                • Clothing, footwear and accessories
                                                                  • Figure 39: Louis Vuitton NBA collaboration
                                                                • Food and drink
                                                                  • Figure 40: Gifford’s Ice Cream creates Celtics-inspired ice cream flavor
                                                              • Ancillary Games

                                                                • Tap into the games around basketball
                                                                  • Figure 41: Ancillary Games, by gender and by generation, 2021
                                                                • Wager on the proliferation of betting content throughout basketball
                                                                  • Figure 42: Bally’s deal with Phoenix Mercury
                                                                • Emulate football to capture the benefits of fantasy
                                                                  • Utilize video games for new integration opportunities
                                                                    • Figure 43: Burger King NBA 2K court
                                                                    • Figure 44: NBA Fortnite crossover integration
                                                                • Social Awareness

                                                                  • Social issues are a priority for the basketball world
                                                                    • Figure 45: Basketball and social awareness, 2021
                                                                    • Figure 46: Basketball and social awareness, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                  • Get out the vote campaigns
                                                                    • Figure 47: Phoenix Mercury voting campaign
                                                                  • Vaccine promotion
                                                                    • Figure 48: NBA Cares vaccine PSA
                                                                  • Supporting the youth
                                                                    • Figure 49: Utah Jazz scholarship program
                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                          • Terms
                                                                          • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                              • Figure 50: : Sports fandom by sport demographics index, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 51: Basketball league fandom, by gender, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 52: Basketball league fandom, by generation, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 53: Basketball league fandom, by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 54: Basketball league fandom, by household income, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 55: Marketing in basketball, by gender, 2021
                                                                              • Figure 56: Marketing in basketball, by generation, 2021

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