Years ago

Just how popular is basketball in Australia?

Ok we all know that the NBL is pretty much struggling (as much as I love the NBL) as is evident by average crowds (apart from Perth) and poor television ratings.

But how popular is the game of basketball in Australia?

I read somewhere that it is the 4th most participated sport in the country (behind AFL, Soccer, swimming) but is that number continuing to grow? Or has it stabilised? Or falling?

We all assume that when someone like Dante Exum gets drafted into the NBA or Patty Mills shines for a Championship team, it does miracles for basketball in Australia but is there any proof/ figures to back this up?

I know a lot of people have league pass but why can't we get a couple of games on a FTA station each week?

Are more kids picking up a basketball these days, then say, a decade ago?

I am curious to get feedback and perhaps even statistics on the above mentioned.


Topic #34846 | Report this topic

Solid Moves  
Years ago

Great question. And i think it's one that many people in a BA office ponder over. I have no confirmed numbers, but working in the sport and recreation administration field we talk unconfirmed that it is indeed number 4 in junior participation.

My comment will surround personal experiences. Does anyone else remember the days where EVERYONE played basketball and we all had like 3 teammates who could fill it up? Well, those days are gone. Watching domestic in my home town you still have your NTIP or Goldies kids, but the gulf between the stellar and well, yeah is as large as I have ever seen. I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed?

It's all to do with lifestyle and what parents are prepared to pay for at a junior level. If they pay right up to U18's then they most likely will transition into social but if parents get busy and don't go further than 16's then the AFL grabs them and throws them into the system or in the world of XBox, they play no sport at all. I know plenty of kids i went to school with who as soon as their parents got busy suddenly never touched a basketball again and were so much better than a lot who stayed on.

Also doesn't help that the NBL isn't that fantastic to watch. I live 3 hours from the city and travel to watch SEABL and WNBL games but wouldn't bother with the NBL. It just isn't exciting hoops in my opinion and i think that's a huge part of the numbers. You always have to have something local. Look at the PBA and other Asian leagues. They worship the NBA, but because they have a strong league of their own then that love of the game doubles. If kids love a game, history says they will want to play it!

I think the problem is all through the sport. Basketball families will always be basketball families. It's the others we need to attract and I believe our time will come. The AFL are too worried about TV $$ and could drop the ball allowing for the A-League, NBL etc. to move in on a little more ground.

I'd love one day to talk with BA and find out just exactly what they're trying to do to combat the lifestyle and other issues that present themselves.

If you'd like an example google Mitch Creek AFL or Mark Worthington AFL. If you're half athletic a footy side wants you and even a basic salary there is very hard for an NBL team to match unless you're already proiven.

Reply #482067 | Report this post

Years ago

Basketball as a junior sport is huge in Australia. I believe it is the largest participation sport in Victoria. But I say many kids drop off and take on footy when they are older.

NBA is big in Australia too. We are the biggest subscriber to League Pass and highest purchaser in merchandise. Although it is not the best indicator, you just need to look around these days and it is not long before you see someone in an NBA jersey (especially with the kids). Personally being a teacher, I see most kids follow AFL, EPL and NBA.

NBL obviously not that big but if you combine the all aspects of basketball into one product I would say it is a fairly popular sport in Australia.

Reply #482069 | Report this post

Years ago

Basketball is pretty popular but i think that parents and kids tend to stop playing at U16 because of all the travel and schoolwork heating up they give it up and sadly 1 in 10 kids can only name 10 other players apart from lebron and jordan and like 1 in 30 for the australian players in the nba sadly...

Reply #482070 | Report this post

Years ago

Good feedback.

It would be interesting to know the television ratings of NBA games telecast on ESPN in Australia.

According to the Perth Wildcats Facebook page, in 1991 the average television ratings for Perth games was 250,000. That's outstanding! Last seasons Grand Final rated at just over 100,000 Nationally (by far the biggest ratings figure for the season) so what the hell has happened?

What also intrigues me is that in the early 90's our best Aussies, wanted to play in the NBL (unless they got an NBA contract) like Heal, Gaze, Bradtke, Ronaldson etc. the lure of the European dollar has always been there. So why don't our best Aussies want to play NBL anymore?

Same with the imports. We had outstanding imports who would stay: Dmac, Grace, Loggins, Fisher, Copeland etc.

Now we struggle to not only attract that calibre of import but if we do ( which is rare) they rarely stay more than 1 season. Why?

Reply #482071 | Report this post

Years ago

I pretty sure the nba playoffs and finals averaged like 50k on foxtel and even more on league pass which is pretty good

Reply #482073 | Report this post

Years ago

If the 50k on ESPN is correct, I think that is a pretty poor ratings figure.

Especially compared to other sports on Foxtel.

Reply #482074 | Report this post

Years ago

Yeah but think most of the games are on weekdays in the middle of the day when people are at work/school compared to AFL/NRL on weekends.

Reply #482081 | Report this post

Years ago

I think as a participation sport it would be bigger than Australian Rules. The 16+ drop out thing happens in every sport basically, lots of evidence about that.

Reply #482082 | Report this post

Wildcat Fan  
Years ago

Not so much a focus on participation, but moreso a general awareness. Ive noticed an increase in basketball being mentioned in AFL shows - especially Game Day on Channel 7 on Sunday mornings. A lot of the time when a player is being interviewed and they get asked who their sporting hero is, or their favourite teams, its quite often an NBA player and team.

Basketball is making some inroads - slowly - but if the AFL players continue to plug the game, it starts to gain some traction, and this makes the sport look credible.

Other positives that help the popularity - The "invasion" of Aussies in the NBA has been huge, as is Andrew Bogut being the highest paid Australian sports star.

Crowds in the NBL are slowly improving, and if Channel 10 bothered with the product, the TV coverage would be more appealing. Hopefully with expansion comes a new TV deal that will see this happen.

Im confident in thinking that basketball is many peoples "second favourite sport". Particularly the younger generation.

Reply #482085 | Report this post

Years ago

I know this isn't much but i was watching the footy on Fox Footy over the weekend and the commentator referred to the players defense as the point guard matching up against the other guard or in some words like that. Along with that you continue to hear of the Basketball background of many AFL players. Just the mention of the word basketball to the thousands of people who watch the games is a step in the right direction. With Dante and Bear being drafted and our strong pedigree to come its hard not to say that basketball is being more popular.

Reply #482103 | Report this post

You need to be a registered user to post from this location. Register here.

Close ads
Serio: Tourism photography and videography
Little Streaks - The fun and interactive good-habits app designed especially for kids.

Advertise on Hoops to a very focused, local and sports-keen audience. Email for rates and options.

Recent Posts


An Australian basketball forum covering NBL, WNBL, ABL, Juniors plus NBA, WNBA, NZ, Europe, etc | Forum time is: 6:18 am, Wed 24 Jul 2024 | Posts: 968,026 | Last 7 days: 754