Ranking the popularity of basketball in Asia: Rakuten AIP

The NBA season has now reached the midway mark and once again the Golden State Warriors are ahead of the pack. With a 33-9 record, the Warriors, who selected Rakuten as their first-ever jersey-badge partner at the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, are on pace to finish with the association’s top regular season record for the fourth consecutive year. And with all that winning, the world has taken notice.

But it isn’t only the Warriors that are growing their global footprint. It’s the entire league. Indeed, basketball, a sport that was invented in the United States, is now truly a global game. And a key to that growing popularity is Asia.

Rakuten AIP, a leader of online market research in Asia, recently leveraged their online panels to complete some fascinating research into the depth of support for the game in the key Asian markets of China, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. Below are some highlights of their findings.

Basketball top 5 in all nations surveyed: Supreme in the Philippines

Basketball is by far the most popular sport in the Philippines, with roughly three quarters of those surveyed by Rakuten AIP saying they are basketball fans. The Philippines Basketball Association (PBA), which was founded in 1975, was the first professional basketball league in Asia and is now the second-oldest continuously existing league in the world, behind the National Basketball Association in the U.S.

In Taiwan, basketball is a top favorite alongside badminton. Its popularity is driven in part by successful Taiwanese players such as Jeremy Lin, who have had sparkling careers in the NBA and who continue to hold training camps back home in Taiwan. In China, basketball ranks fourth, behind badminton, table tennis and swimming, while in Singapore, it has similar popularity to that of table tennis placing it within the top 5 popular sports.

Which of the following sports are you a fan of? (Select all that apply) (Showing top 5 picks per country – see Survey Details for full list of sports asked)
Survey respondents were asked which sports they are a fan of.

Analysis of the data for gender reveals that basketball remains the most popular sport regardless of gender in the Philippines. There’s higher popularity for basketball among males in Taiwan and Singapore, while in China it holds onto 4th place for both genders.

Favorite basketball team: Golden State Warriors

Let’s take a closer look at the Philippines, where basketball is by far the most popular sport. AIP asked fans to name their favorite basketball team in the world and a quarter of respondents chose the Golden State Warriors, making it the top choice by a wide margin. The Lakers and Cavaliers came second and third, followed by the Bulls. Local teams came next: Ginebra at 7% and Gilas at 5%.

Basketball fans in the Philippines were asked to choose their favorite basketball team in the world.
Basketball fans in the Philippines were asked to name their favorite basketball team in the world.

AIP also asked respondents why they liked the Warriors so much. While many naturally mentioned star players, such as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, many more focused on the Warrior’s strong teamwork. Below are some of their answers:

  • “Because of their team effort and hard work towards championship.”
  • “They are the best team. They work together as a team and not just a one-man show.”
  • “I really love this Team because the players of this team are united, cooperative and play with heart.”
  • “They always play to win and they also play as a team, never individually.”
  • “They play as a team, and they help each other. A perfect concept of a team.”

AIP survey details

Markets: Age 18+ in China, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan
Sample Size: approximately 600 people per country
Methodology: Online survey using Rakuten AIP proprietary panels
Timing: Oct 31-Nov 8, 2017
List of sports respondents were asked to choose from: American football, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Field Hockey, Golf, Ice Hockey, Rugby, Soccer / Football, Swimming, Table Tennis / Ping pong, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Other, I’m not a fan of any sports

A version of this post was originally published on the Rakuten AIP website. For more information about Rakuten AIP, see here.

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