The most popular sport in North America is without a doubt the National Football League; everyone else is just trying to take over second place. The NHL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR fight on the next tier of popularity, and at any point during the year one of these leagues is the next most interesting sport.
The NBA now is looking to make a huge surge and regain the popularity it once had. With that they have implemented a major social media campaign, as every sport should, and this week they will be launching an interactive Facebook game for basketball fans in the vein of the ever-popular and addictive Farmville.
The game, called NBA Legend and created , will allow users to create their own avatar and begin a career through the league. They will join a team, and build up different attributes such as speed and skill. Part of the enjoyment is not destination, but the journey, beginning as a rookie and playing against other users in the virtual world who too are trying to gain a quick first step. The goal, of course, is to become an NBA Legend. The NBA looks to capitalize on it’s social popularity that has been earned indirectly; players have engaged fans on Twitter and the NBA Facebook page has grown without a true concerted effort by the league. Like so many Twitter trends, viral videos, and Facebook groups, the NBA has grown in popularity online due simply to a passionate fan base. The NBA has the largest fan base on Facebook with over 7 million ‘Likes,’ dwarfing the 2.5 million followers of the NFL.
The game has been developed in partnership with the NBA by Lionside, a group that is no stranger to the worlds of sport and social gaming. Previously the company created a soccer game for Facebook, which operates in a similar manner, with users creating players and training a team to compete against other virtual gamers. With NBA Legend on Facebook, however, Lionside and the NBA will reach a far greater number of fans.
The timing of the game has been well thought out, leading up to the All-Star game and dunk contest in Los Angeles. The goal is to gain fans throughout the rest of the season and through the playoffs, and then into to offseason. The NBA is looking to capture fans attention even when there are no games going on, a tough task considering baseball and NFL preseason dominate the summer months.
In addition to gaining fans, the NBA looks to make some money as well. Like other virtual games on Facebook, there will be options to purchase virtual goods and services in order to improve your performance in the online world. There is also a possibility of sponsors joining the game, but that would be farther down the road. In the meantime, users can get practicing and build up their avatar to try and compete in the virtual NBA.