HONG KONG/JAKARTA: China continues to be the largest international market for the National Basketball Association (NBA), but the league is making a concerted effort to expand its fan base across Southeast Asia.

In a region where, outside of the Philippines, football – and particularly the English Premier League – grabs attention, the NBA remains undaunted and is finding its mix of marketing, local partnerships and customised strategy paying off.

"With over 600m people in Southeast Asia that boast of an expanding middle class, rising disposable incomes and a young median age, it is a region that we see a great fit with," said Scott Levy, Managing Director of NBA Asia, in an interview with Campaign Asia.

NBA programming is already available via local broadcasters, such as StarHub in Singapore, Astro in Malaysia and True Visions in Thailand, among others in the Philippines and India, but the NBA is also getting active in Indonesia.

On top of engaging Indonesian consumers through locally developed social media content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Line Indonesia, the NBA plans to ramp up its TV and OTT offerings.

Starting next season, a number of games will be broadcast on free TV and the league also plans to introduce “sachet” access to NBA League Pass, its OTT platform, that will give consumers access to NBA content at a low cost.

"Our key challenge in Asia has been the accessibility of our product," Levy explained. "We have been working tirelessly to put pieces in place and achieve localisation in delivery, localisation in communication and localisation in payment.

"With the start of the next season, you will be able to consume our product any way you want and anywhere you want."

In addition, NBA Asia is investing in a host of programming through various digital outlets across the popular genres of music, fashion and technology.

Levy described NBA's regional digital strategy as a long-term plan, saying: "Our aim is to touch both the existing NBA consumers as well as new fans who may have other passions, but hold a potential to get interested in basketball too."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff