Analysis, Basketball, Fan Data, Sports Data, Sports Fan Data

NBA Game Attendance: Is Basketball Quickly Gaining Popularity?

Photo by the Boston Globe.

With the NBA Final recently completed, and the NBA itself is enjoying new heights in
popularity, the Warriors are one of the most popular teams playing against one of
the most popular athletes in the world in LeBron James, we begin our series of posts
on stadium attendance and interest with an analyses of NBA regular season game
attendance. (We opted for regular season attendance because playoffs games are
almost always sold out.)

Consistent with the viewership growth we mentioned in our initial attendance post,
NBA game attendance has steadily increased over the past four seasons, growing
from 21,906,346 in 2014 to 22,023,530 in 2017. Average attendance has also
increased—17,824 in 2014 to 17,993 in 2017—while game over game variance has
declined, clear signals of the gaining popularity of professional basketball. Indeed,
the NBA has yielded superb attendance recently, with attendance hovering around
93% for each of the past four years. In our next post we’ll examine individual team
attendance as we did with MLB.

Year Attend-


Capacity Attend-

ance %

Mean Standard


Minimum Median Variance
2014 21,906,346 23,569,977 92.94% 17,824 2,308.4 10,079 18,203 5.33E+07
2015 21,977,468 23,593,217 93.15% 17,867 2,318.9 9,153 18,246 5.38E+07
2016 22,016,113 23,518,670 93.61% 17,884 2,259.5 7,244 18,418 5.11E+07
2017 22,023,530 23,577,315 93.41% 17,993 2,031.9 10,231 18,306 4.13E+07

With the NBA preseason starting up at the end of the next month, and the regular season a few weeks after that, be sure to check out a FanWide game watch party at a local bar or restaurant.