(Reuters) - Golden State Warriors continue to be the most popular NBA franchise online in China for a third consecutive year, according to annual report on the teams’ digital performance.
The NBA Red Card report, which was released by digital marketing agency Mailman on Thursday, measures online influence using a number of performance metrics including growth in followers and engagement on Chinese social media platforms.
Warriors, the 2018 champions, claimed the top spot ahead of the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics.
Former Toronto Raptors point guard Jeremy Lin, who secured a move to China’s Beijing Ducks this week, was the most popular player, beating Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.
The report said the NBA teams gained a cumulative 47 million new followers on Chinese social media platforms - Weibo, Douyin and Toutiao - last season.
The NBA has leveraged their marquee players to promote the league in Asia by sending out the Warriors, Rockets and Lakers to China over the last three years.
On-court success is not the only factor behind their online popularity in China as the franchises continue to increase their engagement levels on the social media websites.
Andrew Collins, CEO of Mailman, believes the NBA’s recent move to allow the franchises to sell international sponsorship rights, as part of a three-year test, will further boost their brand in the Chinese markets.
“The NBA is doing a great job in China to grow the sport from the grassroots and in the communities,” Collins said in a statement.
“Teams and players are taking back control and establishing an online presence, while the recent sponsorship opening announcement will give teams more autonomy from the league.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly