The National Basketball Association (NBA) is set to woo its fan base in India with a host of products that were previously unavailable in the country. The association has partnered with Jabong to launch an exclusive brand shop that will offer over 200 NBA products through Indian e-commerce player.
Launching the store in Mumbai, Bollywood star and an avid NBA follower, Abhishek Bachchan spoke about how he got introduced to the sport at a very young age and his views on basketball in India.
How did you come about following the sport?
I visited my father in the USA sometime around the year 1982 and he took me to watch a game between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Ever since I have been hooked on to the game and follow it on a regular bases.
Do you just follow the sport or have you tried dunking the ball as well?
I played the sport in school and even had the opportunity to captain my school team. Though after moving to the USA for college I had to partially quit the sport as my physical attributes were in question there unlike in India (chuckles). At over six feet tall, I was still the shortest in the team.
What is it about the sport that excites you?
Everything. I could probably go on and on talking about how great the sport is but then to gist it in a few words I believe the sport is exhilarating, it's fast, relentless, robust... It makes you a complete athlete and is just a complete sport.
Do you follow the Indian competitions?
I have seen a few. In fact, from what I saw at the ASIAD, I think we Indians have great talent and great potential to play and, be a bigger part of this glorious sport.
While existing relations with Sony and Adidas's 200 stores across India have helped NBA double merchandise sales during last two seasons, it plans to expand reach and grow sales in the Indian market with this newly inked multi-year deal with Jabong.
Strategically improving its customer base, Yannick Colaco, managing director, NBA India, said, “The process of promoting the sport will be a sustainable one as the development takes place through activities that happen throughout the year.”
Accordingly, NBA India has taken various initiatives to improve its fan base including 'Junior NBA' and 'NBA Champs' that will help reach the young and the probable. While not sharing specific growth numbers for India, Colaco claimed their fan base has doubled. "On social media the growth has been around 450% and television viewership has grown by 200%," he said.
Basketball viewership on television has been growing in India. As per data from Sony SIX, approximately 23 million viewers sampled NBA content in the first 11 weeks of the current season of which 8 million were women viewers.
Commenting on their collaboration with Jabong, Colaco said, it will not only help cater to the needs of the existing basketball followers looking to buy NBA merchandise but would also help promote the sport. With the launch of its online store, NBA will make available its range of products including shorts, jerseys and t-shirts for men and women at prices ranging from Rs 1,400 going up to Rs 14,000.
The Jabong management believes sporting goods have become a fashion and the NBA partnership will further its growth prospects in the online shopping space. In fact, Praveen Sinha, co-founder and managing director, Jabong, sees sale of sporting goods grow by 165% and the share of basketball merchandise increase from 10% to 17% of the total sales.