The NBA on the Web & Spock

The NBA playoffs began over the weekend, and after one of the more compelling regular seasons in NBA history, the buzz surrounding the league is at an all time high., reported that the NBA on ABC earned a 2.5 rating, up 9% in households from 2007. ESPN and TNT showed similar growth with a 10% jump, earning a 1.1 rating for the season.

From a television ratings standpoint, NBA executives are without a doubt hoping that the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers face off in the finals. While a Lakers and Celtics match up makes sense from a ratings perspective, Spock looked at some of the people search figures surrounding the sixteen playoff teams to see which two teams would generate the biggest fan buzz.

Individually, the most searched NBA players on Spock were Kobe Bryant and Yao MingShaquille O’Neil and Jason Kidd also saw a 5% bump in their search activity following their trades in March. On the retail side, Kevin Garnett lead all NBA players in jersey sales, followed by Kobe Bryant and Allen IversonGarnett who plays for  the Celtics, was part of the top team in jersey sales.  Surprisingly after the Celtics, the most jersey sales were generated by the Bulls, Knicks and Heat, three teams that did not make the playoffs. Thus, from a strictly individual perspective, it would appear that the general public would prefer to see the Celtics and the Lakers.

In analyzing the overall popularity from a team perspective, Spock looked at traffic and tagging on Spock, blogs, average attendance, percentage attendance, and Myspace fan groups. On Spock the Lakers lead all teams in popularity with 5,976 fan related tags.  The next most popular teams were the Utah Jazz, and  Detroit Pistons. The Atlanta Hawks were the least popular team on Spock. Within the blogging community the Boston Celtics were the clear winners with over 12,000 fan blogs. The next closest teams were the the Dallas Mavericks with over 10,000 fan blogs, and the Houston Rockets with over 8,400 fan blogs. The Philadelphia Sixers remained the least popular team with around 435 fan blogs. In average attendance Detroit led all teams with an average of 22,076 fans. The next closest teams were the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas, with the New Orleans Hornets averaged the least number of fans with 14,181.  While Detroit led in average attendance, Dallas led the league in percentage attendance with 105.07.  Looking at Myspace fan pages, the Lakers were again the most popular team with the two largest fan groups totaling 15,677 members.  As a whole, it would appear that while attendance figures are about even between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, there was a larger internet fan base for the Western Conference.  While this could be attributed to the Western Conference teams having more fans, this is likely due to the fact that with the exception of Detroit and Boston the Eastern Conference as whole was far less competitive compared to the rest of the league.

In the end while the network executives may favor a Boston vs Los Angeles match up, based on the people search figures, a Dallas vs Detroit NBA finals would draw the greatest fan buzz.

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