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The NBA Has Surpassed the NFL as the League of America’s Future 6

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The NFL is still in the lead across all leagues

The NFL has been the most popular sports league in the US and has a reasonably healthy lead on the rest of the sports leagues, including the NBA. This then begs the question: How much of a lead does the NFL hold? To bring this into perspective, the NFL maintains a big lead in terms of revenue generated from things like stadium sales, media rights, and licensing. The proceeds from the NFL more than double those from the NBA. For example, in 2015 the NFL generated $13,328m while the NBA generated $5,130m.

In terms of viewers, the NFL attracts much more viewers than the NBA. The 2017 NBA finals had an average of 20.4m viewers, which is almost the same as the NFL’s normal Sunday night viewership of 20.3m, and does not come anywhere close to the 111m viewers from the 2016 Super Bowl. However, despite the NFL’s higher popularity, there are quite a number of signs that show the game of football is starting to lose popularity in the eyes of the fans.

Signs that the NBA is replacing the NFL as America’s league of the future

Despite the aforementioned indicators of how football is still very popular, hence the great popularity of the NFL as opposed to the NBA, there are several indications that the NBA is quickly surpassing the NFL as America’s future league. Below are some of the indicators.

The NBA has been registering growth while the NFL is constant

The NBA is currently experiencing growth at a much higher rate than the NFL, which seems to have stagnated. While looking at the future popularity trends, young adults offer a good demographic to look at with regards to their viewing habits. The NBA has shown great progress and has done an extraordinary job in the past couple of years attracting and marketing to millennials. Also, many millennials view the NFL as violent, and young, educated parents are dissuading their children from playing youth league football. This is bad for the future of the NFL, as its talent pool is not being replenished, and in several years to come, it may not have enough players.

The NBA has a wider international fan base

The NFL has an insignificant international reach, as very few players come from other countries. Thus, there is negligible support from outside the US. The NBA, on the other hand, has almost a quarter of its players drawn from other countries, and has an expanding international fan base.

The NFL exposes players to more dangers (injuries)

Although Americans used to be attracted to a sport due to its physical risks, perhaps as a mark of manhood or maturity, this notion is changing. Many are stepping back from football due to the dangers it exposes to its players, especially brain damage. Unlike the slight arm or leg injuries that earn a player bragging rights, permanent brain damage can adversely impact a player for the rest of his life, which should not be taken lightly.

The NBA seems much more receptive to change

The NBA shows some level of a modern approach to various issues in the dynamic world. On the contrary, the NFL seems to be behind with regards to social justice, amendment of rules, and handling of players’ affairs. All these things make the NFL less popular and are a recipe for future disaster.


Although the viewership figures show a great liking for football and high popularity for the NFL, the NBA is quickly gaining ground, and in a matter of years, it will possibly catch up and be more popular. The NBA is no doubt the league of America’s future if we consider its fast growth in popularity.



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