The NBA launched its first official online merchandise store for India last week on May 6. In association with online shopping portal Jabong, NBAStore.in is expected to blossom into one of, if not the most profitable portion of NBA’s online presence. With Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan in attendance for the virtual launch, there’s one thing that’s clear and simple about the Indian market: they love basketball, perhaps more so than people here in the U.S.
“I am a big fan of basketball and NBA,” Bachchan said during the launch. “I attended my first NBA match at Los Angeles as a six-year-old when my father (Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan) was recuperating there after his accident in 1982-83 (during shooting of Hindi movie Coolie). I have played basketball in school and even captained my team and used to practice for 2-3 hours daily.”
If Bollywood’s on board with the NBA, it’s more than guaranteed that the people of India — of all ages and demographics — will follow suit. Most notably, Bollywood’s support of the NBA has and will continue to attract women to the game of basketball. Yannick Colaco, NBA India’s managing director, noted the league has become the second-most watched foreign sports league in India after English Premier League, and has a growing number of female followers.
“We have overtaken watchers for the Spanish (football) league, Bundesliga, and are second only to EPL. If EPL has 90 percent male viewership, we have 30 percent,” he said.
The NBA’s growth in India has been exponentially faster than that of the EPL or any other international league that people in India watch. The EPL has been watched for years by the Indian population; within just a few years of being introduced to the NBA, the people of India are gravitating towards it like no other.
The NBA will outpace the EPL in India by 2016 at the very latest.