If anyone needed more evidence of Australian basketball's rise, this is it. Australia continues to cement itself at the top, when it comes to the world's most popular basketball league's streaming product: the NBA League Pass (LP).
According to the NBA's latest numbers, Australia holds the lead on NBA LP subscriber numbers and revenue, outside of China and the US.
As at April, Australia's subscriber numbers have risen by 16% year on year (YoY).
NBA League Pass evolution and competitive landscape in Australia
This is impressive growth, given the competition in alternatives like illegal internet streams, the continued presence of ESPN on Foxtel, and a legitimate rising Australian competitor in Kayo Sports, a multi-sport live streaming product that starts at $25 a month. For the typical Australian sports fan that consumes more than one sport, being able to stream more than one sport on the same platform is a big upside in terms of convenience and cost.
NBA LP itself has evolved in response, providing new features that were not present previously. Outside of home/away/national commentaries, foreign language feeds (including Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish) have been introduced.
New NBA League Pass viewing options were also rolled out in partnership with Second Spectrum, something that was first released for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
Optimised mobile view for phones and tablets
Player Mode, where shot probability of all offensive players are tracked and change real-time
Coach Mode, with developing X's and O's strategies highlighted on the court
Mascot Mode, which introduces an element of arcade-esque fun - this includes a flaming basket for scoring runs, and a 3D on-screen brick for bad misses
Australians in the NBA
The uptick in fan interest however, isn't entirely surprising, given Australia's growing presence in the league.
At the end of the 2018/19 NBA regular season, a record 13 Australians were in the league. This includes veterans Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers), Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics) and younger talents Dante Exum (Utah Jazz), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) and Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons). Boomer veteran Andrew Bogut, who suited up for the Sydney Kings this season, unexpectedly made a late return to the Golden State Warriors for another championship run, after clinching MVP and Defensive Player Of the Year honours in the NBL.
The season also saw fresh blood in the form of Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers) and Ryan Broekhoff (Dallas Mavericks), as well as Deng Adel (Cleveland Cavaliers), Mitchell Creek (Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves), and Isaac Humphries (Atlanta Hawks).
Philadelphia guard and Victorian native Ben Simmons also made his appearance this season as Australia's first ever NBA All-Star, and is leading the charge against the Raptors right now. Simmons' surging season likely had an effect on Australian subscribers - the Philadelphia 76ers were second among users in League Pass Team Choice, with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers being the top pick.
Australians in the NBA playoffs
Right now, multiple Australians are still in the playoffs race, which definitely adds to fan interest at home.
Baynes' Celtics secured a first victory on Monday in their series against the NBA's regular season top-seeded team, MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks. The teams will play Game 2 today at 10:00am AEST.
Simmons and Bolden's 76ers took a pivotal road win in Toronto against the Raptors yesterday. They return to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Friday, 10:00am AEST.
Bogut's Warriors clinched Game 1 against Houston Rockets, led by James Harden, a finalist in the MVP race, and will play Game 2 today at 12:30pm AEST.
Mills and the Spurs bowed out in a Game 7 clash against the Denver Nuggets, while Maker's Pistons were swept by the Bucks. Ingles and the Jazz succumbed to Houston, with teammate Exum unable to play due to injury.
Top markets outside of the US and China for NBA LP subscriptions: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Philippines and the United Kingdom
Denver (41%) and Dallas (34%) lead LP YoY unique viewer growth
Unique YoY viewer growth driven by international stars:
Serbia (395%), Denver's big man Nikola Jokić
Slovenia (186%), Mavericks' #1 draft pick, guard Luka Dončić
Greece (37%), Milwaukee's All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo
Montenegro (65%), Orlando Magic's center Nikola Vucevic
India had 100% YoY growth in subscriber numbers and 79% in unique viewer growth.
The NBA has more than 100 international players for the fifth consecutive season, with at least one player in each of 30 teams.
International subscriptions rose by 21%
Unique international viewers up by 15%
Total watch time among international users increased by 16%