The Super Bowl exposed many flaws that the NFL has been dealing with for a long time.
In what was one of the most boring Super Bowl games in recent history, the NBA was able to steer the conversation away from football with a few tweets that speculated some big trades on the horizon.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick earned their historic sixth ring as a tandem, but as soon as LeBron James sent out a cryptic tweet, all eyes were back on the NBA.
Now that the game is over, no one is talking about it anymore. Sports fans’ focus changed quickly to which NBA team is going to trade for superstar Anthony Davis.
The issue is that the NFL hasn’t been able to market its players and teams as well as the NBA. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan are global icons to sports and non-sports fans alike, while Jerry Rice, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are not household names outside of sports fanatics.
While the NFL is still on top when it comes to viewership, there are other factors that give the NBA an edge. NBA Twitter is one huge determinant and can best be described as a sports bar that never closes.
“More people might watch the NFL on TV, but when it comes to consuming a sport through the Internet, I don’t think anything’s close to the NBA,” Rob Perez said to the Washington Post. Perez, better known as WorldWideWob, went from being an unknown user on Twitter to one of NBA Twitter’s most prominent online figures with over 321,000 followers.
According to Twitter, the NBA was the most tweeted-about sports league in 2018, with more than 100 million NBA-related tweets heading into last year’s NBA Finals. The organization has used the most efficient route to build its brand, using Twitter to establish a global presence. On the other hand, the NFL hasn’t had the same level of fan engagement because of its substandard way of marketing and branding. When fans see the NFL, all they see is a helmet. But when they see the NBA, a personality is present.
The Super Bowl faulted in the exact same way. The 2018 NBA Finals excited fans for the actual basketball game being played, while the Super Bowl continues to be seen mostly as an excuse to hang out with some friends, get drunk and eat some good food. The NFL has some work to do if it wants to become the global phenomenon the NBA has become. I hope next year I don’t feel the same resentment for what is supposed to be the best played football game of the year.