Illawarra Hawks guard, LaMelo Ball's presence is showing its impact on the NBL's international exposure this 2019/20 season, starting with the Hawks' opening round against the Brisbane Bullets.
According to an official NBL release on Wednesday morning, the Saturday game was the most watched game in NBL history, with one million people watching the live stream on Facebook in the United States.
A highlight video from that game, which featured Ball crossing his defender over twice while bringing the ball up court, did nearly 2.5 million views on Twitter.
This season, the NBL is streaming a selection of games on Facebook Watch in America via the NBL Facebook page, in partnership with Facebook.
“We’re thrilled to bring the exciting action of the NBL to Facebook Watch," Karren Rogers of Facebook Australia Sports Partnerships said in an earlier release.
“People in the U.S. – especially Ball in the Family fans – will enjoy watching two of basketball’s brightest young stars develop overseas, while those in Australia and New Zealand will now have a new way to watch and interact with the NBL.”
The NBL’s social media channels have seen increases in engagement this season, with 4.5 million impressions on Instagram posts across the opening round.
“... Our games are being broadcast to a potential reach [of] 130 million people across the world including the U.S., Europe and Asia but our numbers are also exploding across all social media platforms," NBL owner, Larry Kestelman said. “As a global sport and entertainment product we are in a unique position to capitalise on this as we continue to grow the league both here and around the world in the years to come.”
The NBL’s Instagram account following has more than doubled since round one last season. The average engagement on Facebook per post has increased by 250% and by 340% on Twitter.
The Hawks experienced early struggles against Brisbane in their Round 1 game, which hints at possible lineup changes for this coming week.
In Round 2, Ball's Illawarra Hawks will play the Perth Wildcats on Friday, 11 Oct 9:30pm AEDT at RAC Arena, before matching up against the Cairns Taipans next, on 14 Oct (Monday), 7:30pm AEDT at the WIN Entertainment Centre.