StubHub’s 2019 NBA Preview: Los Angeles Teams Dominate as Super Star Duos Spark Demand; International Sales on the Rise
The 2019 NBA season is one of the most highly anticipated seasons in recent memory, thanks to an offseason that included promising draft picks, high-profile free agent acquisitions and exciting storylines. With only two weeks until the season opener on October 22, StubHub teamed up with eBay data analysts to gather the latest in-depth highlights, insights and data about what’s driving demand on the online platforms in our third-annual NBA season preview.
The theme of the NBA 2019 season is starpower. This year, seemingly more than ever before, fans are seeing the league’s star players joining forces on the court in their quest for a championship, and the biggest stars from college give some deflated teams a boost.
This is apparent throughout our ticket demand insights, particularly in the top 10 in-demand teams and games:
Lakers and Clippers Steal the Show
StubHub’s top teams all have some special starpower, but none more than the two teams from Los Angeles. While there has been some major movement on StubHub’s Top 10 teams list since 2018, one thing is for certain: The King Still Reigns. LeBron’s Lakers are the #1 in-demand team and, with the Clippers closing the gap at #2, it is clear that Los Angeles is an epicenter for excitement for the NBA in 2019.
- Lakers remain #1 after signing Anthony Davis in July, now holding this lead for the third year in a row. The team is outselling the #2 Clippers by 32%. Last year, the Lakers outsold then-#2 Warriors by 86%.
- The Lakers are playing in both of the top two games for the second year in a row, which are yielding more sales than the rest of the top 10 games, combined.
- Clippers make a big jump from #10 to #2, after major hype from signing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason.
- This year’s #1 game, Lakers vs. Clippers on Oct. 22, is driving significant demand compared to past years, outselling the 2018 #1 matchup of Rockets vs. Lakers by 58%. It’s also driving more than 3x the sales of this year’s #2 game, Clippers vs. Lakers.
- The average ticket price for the Clippers vs. Lakers Christmas Day game is 45% higher than the average ticket price of the second-highest game, the Lakers vs. Clippers season opener.
“Clearly LeBron is still the must-see player in the NBA, as the Lakers remain StubHub’s #1 team for the third year in a row,” said Akshay Khanna, GM of the NBA for StubHub. “However, both of the LA teams are driving major demand this year on StubHub. In fact, the combined sales of the two Lakers, Clippers games are outselling the top two games of 2018 by nearly 40 percent and that gap will grow as the Christmas game approaches.”
Other Game Trends: Hot Home Openers
- Five teams’ home openers make the top 10 list in 2019: Clippers, 76ers, Raptors, Warriors and Nets.
- The most affordable home opener is the Nets’ Oct. 23 game vs. Timberwolves, with an average ticket price of $163.
- The Clippers home opener is outselling the #2 opener, 76ers vs. Celtics, by nearly 5x.
- The defending NBA champions, Toronto Raptors, are the #3 home opener of the year as they take on highly anticipated rookie Zion Williamson and his Pelicans.
eBay’s Top 10 Most Popular NBA Teams
- Warriors For The (Online) Win: In the month leading up to the NBA championship game, fandom for the Golden State Warriors drove 209% more merch sales on eBay than the Toronto Raptors .
- Ready for Results: Chicago Bulls fans are feeling invigorated on the heels of changes to the line-up; the team ranked #1 in overall merch sales on eBay and an average of 10 Bulls items were purchased every hour this past year.
The Rise of NBA Duos in 2019
Tinseltown isn’t the only city with new stars on their starting five, as many teams are following one of the biggest movements of the NBA this year: player duos. Brooklyn, New Orleans and Houston, just to name a few, all have new famous pairs to root for this season. With KD joining Kyrie in New York, powerhouse draft pick Zion Williamson playing alongside Lonzo Ball and Russell Westbrook reuniting with James Harden in Houston, star NBA duos are trending and the strong sales prove it.
- All four of these teams featuring new duos are up in website visits, the number of tickets sold and the average ticket price for their home opener. The Clippers show the most growth in all three categories.
- Pelicans fans are eager to see the debut of Zion Williamson: New Orleans has sold the second-highest number of season opener tickets, and claim the lowest average ticket price for the opener at $150.
- New Orleans Pelicans make the Top 10 for the first time ever thanks to the highly-anticipated #1 overall draft pick, Zion Williamson.
- The average ticket price for the season openers for all the new-duo teams this season is $245.
“The biggest story of the NBA offseason this year was undoubtedly the rise of the star player duos and StubHub has seen a significant uptick from those teams as fans ramp up to see the debut of these incredible stars,” said Khanna. “The Clippers ticket sales were a staggering 800 percent higher this year than last, showing the power of celebrity in the NBA today.”
Trending Teams: Biggest Growth Since 2018
The duos aren’t the only reason teams are seeing major growth from 2018. Take a look at StubHub’s trending teams this year – the teams seeing the biggest growth in sales since the start of the 2018 season – and you’ll see that increased sales have also come courtesy of young stars boosting fan anticipation for the teams, take Trae Young and his Hawks for example. Last year’s playoff teams are riding residual hope into this season, like the Nuggets and 76ers.
NBA International Demand Continues To Grow
The NBA’s international growth is resulting in big sales for many teams, as the league continues to increase its overseas presence – a first, in particular, with India – making for more international games this year.
At home, the anticipation of a thrilling 2019 has fans making the trip across the pond as well: international buyers traveling to the U.S. to see the star duos and legends play in person account for a high percentage of sales this year and a 34% increase in total sales from buyers outside the country.
This is a look at which teams see the greatest percentage of sales from buyers outside of North America:
|Rank||Team||% of International Buyers|
|1||New York Knicks Tickets||55%|
|2||Brooklyn Nets Tickets||45%|
|3||Los Angeles Lakers Tickets||37%|
|4||Golden State Warriors Tickets||37%|
|5||Orlando Magic Tickets||33%|
|6||Miami Heat Tickets||30%|
|7||Los Angeles Clippers Tickets||27%|
|8||Chicago Bulls Tickets||18%|
|9||Houston Rockets Tickets||18%|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans Tickets||18%|
- New York, California and Florida see the greatest percentage of sales coming from international buyers, as the top seven teams hail from these states.
- Australia is the top-buying country outside the U.S. for NBA games.
- The Nets, Knicks and Lakers have the biggest jump in share of international buyers since 2018 with an increase of 10%, 15% and 16% respectively
Where Are They Coming From?
Below is the list of the top five countries that travel to the US for games – sales from international buyers for US events have increased a total of 34% since last season:
- United Kingdom
“It’s remarkable that the NBA is expanding to hosting games in five countries outside of the U.S. this year. The NBA continues to grow the league across the world, building fans along the way.” said Khanna. “More than half of Knicks tickets come from international buyers, and nearly one third of all fans attending NBA games in the state of California are from outside the U.S.”
International Merch Sales on eBay
- Internationally Known: NBA fandom on eBay is growing overseas, too! The UK ranks #1 in international merch sales on eBay with 23% more sales than Australia, who secured the #2 spot with 4 pieces of NBA merch sold per hour on eBay.
- Reigning Champions: Basketball fans in Canada, home to the 2019 champions, the Toronto Raptors, show strong support year-round with an average of 2,000 pieces of NBA merchandise sold per month on eBay.
NBA Players Leading Demand Online
- King James: LeBron James is the most popular NBA player on eBay not only for jersey sales, but for overall memorabilia sales as well; in the past year, an average of five pieces of his memorabilia sold per hour on eBay.
- The Golden Boy: In December 2018, when Steph Curry became the fifth player in Warriors history to score 15,000 points during the regular season, Curry’s memorabilia sales increased 29% on eBay compared to the month prior.
- The Greek Gift: In the month leading up to the 2019 NBA Awards show, 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s memorabilia sales increased an average of 23% on eBay.
From the Court to the Streets
- Kings of Kicks: James Harden and Kyrie Irving dominate this year’s top 10 most popular NBA player sneaker collaborations but, of the two, Harden takes the lead with 60% more sales and three adidas collabs on the list. In fact, one adidas x Harden sneaker sold per hour on eBay in the last year.
“The NBA permeates pop culture in ways we don’t quite see with other sports leagues; case in point, sneaker collaborations from top basketball players are at the forefront of what’s trending today,” said Sam Bright, Vice President of Merchandising at eBay. “eBay has singular perspective on everything NBA because our inventory spans more than just fandom merch, whether its sold-out sneaker drops, customizations or rare one-of-ones. From the court to the street, we know what fans are craving and right now it’s the newly-released LeBron 17 and merchandise repping the Bulls, Warriors and Lakers.”
- Jersey Boys: Brooklyn Nets fans are all about the jersey when it comes to their favorite players; Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant ranked in the top five for most popular jerseys sold on eBay over the last year.
- The Rising Star: New Orleans Pelicans newcomer Zion Williamson is the only 2019 rookie whose jersey made the top 10 list, thanks to his sensational run at Duke University. His jersey saw a whopping 133% increase in sales on eBay in March 2019, the month he returned from a knee injury and was subsequently named MVP after a record-breaking ACC Tournament.
- A Guiding Light: In June 2019, Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history, increasing Leonard’s jersey sales on eBay by a whopping 171% that month alone.
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