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Making the Jump

NBA Fans Numbering 7.6 Million Watch 2022 Draft

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Social Media
July 14, 2022
July 15, 2022
 min read

For 58 young men, years of running full-court sprints, countless hours of ball-handling drills, and thousands of practice shots in empty gyms culminated with their names being read on stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center during the 2022 NBA Draft last month. The budding NBA superstars present for the occasion hugged their families, donned hats emblazoned with the logos of their new teams, and proceeded to the stage to shake Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand and officially begin their NBA journeys. Meanwhile, NBA fans across the country watched eagerly on ABC and ESPN to learn who their favorite team would select and then immediately begin debating draft grades to determine the night’s winners and losers. Those debates no doubt occurred among friends and family members watching together, but social media echo chambers amplified the discussions online in the minutes, hours, and days to follow the primetime event. We used MVP’s omnichannel platform to examine viewership trends throughout both rounds of the draft across various DMAs while also exploring which teams reached the largest social audience and what that meant for NBA partners. Ahead of the draft, the clear top prospect tier included Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. And with 7.6 million people watching on TV, the Orlando Magic were on the clock.

NBA Cities Comprise Viewership Majority

The 2022 NBA Draft was separated into distinct broadcast programs. The first round — comprising picks one through 30 overall — was simulcast on ABC and ESPN, while the second round, with shorter intervals between selections, was only aired on ESPN. The simulcast began at 8 p.m. EST on June 23 and lasted three hours, and the ESPN-only telecast continued until 12:30 a.m. EST. Viewers across both networks in prime time numbered 7.6 million for the first round, which saw Paolo Banchero selected first by Orlando, followed by Oklahoma City taking Gonzaga product Chet Holmgren and Houston landing Jabari Smith Jr. However, interest dwindled by the second round. ESPN maintained only 1.37 million viewers as the clock approached midnight – an 81.9% drop.

Unsurprisingly, designated market areas that include an NBA team were most invested in the proceedings. Fans in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and beyond focused their attention on the draft with visions of their hometown team selecting a player who will help lead the franchise to Finals glory. The 27 domestic DMAs with an NBA organization accounted for 52.8% of viewership during the first round, and each of the top 9 places in our overall DMA rankings. New York led the way with 522,236 viewers, followed by Los Angeles’s 413,966. The first round’s top five was rounded out by Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth, which all exceeded 200,000 viewers. For the second round, the top two places in our rankings flipped, as 105,730 tuned in from L.A. and only 91,788 watched from the Big Apple. Notably, hometown markets performed even better as the draft concluded, with 55.3% of viewers coming from NBA cities during the second round.

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Like a Good Neighbor, the Draft Is There

Many fans complement their draft viewing experience with instant reactions on social media. Interacting with league and team accounts sharing opinions and debating with fellow enthusiasts is part of the night’s allure. A significant number of these interactions spawn from posts across the NBA’s social accounts. Therefore, we used MVP’s social platform to examine the league’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels from June 22-24 and isolate brand values generated for the NBA’s top partners. Social content featuring State Farm Insurance was most prominent during the three-day span bookending the draft. As a result of 3.14 million engagements and 135.9 million impressions on 161 posts showcasing the insurance provider, State Farm earned $882.9K worth of brand value. That figure represented 8.24x more social brand value than any other NBA partner received throughout the period, as Wilson Sporting Goods — $107,122 — was the only other company to reach six figures during the span. The top five also included New Era Cap, Nike, and Mountain Dew.

Rookie Announcements Drive Value

Among the draft’s most illuminating social content were draft cards shared by the league and its teams on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. After making their selections, franchises — 26 of which had at least one pick in this year's draft — proudly announced incoming rookies with posts including images and key information about their skills and playing styles. Teams did this for every pick, while the NBA limited its draft card content to only those chosen in the lottery, which includes the top 14 players taken in the draft. As a result of sharing 36 draft cards on its social channels, the NBA generated the most post value, $1.32M. But among teams, Golden State topped all its counterparts by a wide margin. Despite the Warriors having to wait until the 28th pick of the first round to make their first selection, they earned 1.02 million engagements – at least 4.88x more than any other organization – and generated $423,055 in post value. Golden State swept first in our rankings of every social metric, achieving an average post value of $52,882 and 2.44 million impressions per post. The Los Angeles Lakers also exceeded the NBA’s averages for post value, engagements, and impressions. The Lake Show finished third in overall post value behind Golden State and Cleveland with $82,837. Earning fourth in our rankings, the Oklahoma City Thunder – which had four picks in the draft – posted 14 pieces of content to generate a total post value of $76,769. The San Antonio Spurs accumulated $59,617 in post value to finish fifth.

Among the three social platforms, Instagram moved the needle the farthest when it came to draft cards. Of the $2.6M in total post value generated from such content, 53% – $1.36M – came from the image sharing app. It was also responsible for half of all the impressions created by the NBA and its franchises and a whopping 83% of the engagements earned from draft cards. Twitter finished second in all three categories.

NBA’s Offseason Frenzy Continues

The new crop of rookies had little time to celebrate before converging in Las Vegas for NBA Summer League, currently underway. Those same players who were featured on draft cards performing for league partners including State Farm Insurance and Wilson Sporting Goods are beginning to navigate their new profession with tune-up contests that will help prepare them for opening night in October. The ball never truly stops bouncing for the NBA, so MVP will continue to monitor the league throughout the offseason. Be on the lookout for other upcoming brand value stories spanning the recently concluded playoffs, Summer League, and more in the weeks to come.

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