NBA surpasses 1 billion views on YouTube

From Supermen dancing at All-Star Weekend to Blake Griffin annihilating Kendrick Perkins and the rim, the NBA’s YouTube page surpassed a billion all-time page views on Sunday night, making it the first professional sports league to reach the milestone.

Since partnering with YouTube in 2005 and launching its official channel in ’07, the NBA has committed to making highlights, features and historical clips accessible to fans on the video-sharing website, and the league attributes a small part of its global growth to its fans sharing YouTube clips through social media.

“Our fans are young, multicultural, and they’re digitally savvy,” said Danny Meiseles, the NBA’s executive vice president for programming and broadcasting. “Our thinking has been to give the fans what they want, and they want accessibility to see our highlights in real-time. YouTube has given us that platform.”

The NBA’s most-viewed video is the dance-off between Shaq, LeBron James and Dwight Howard at the 2007 All-Star Weekend with more than 18 million views, although the new commercial promoting the league’s holiday apparel collection -- which debuted Nov. 21 and already has more than 7 million views -- will likely take the top spot in the coming months.

Since the start of this season, the NBA channel has 70 million views, the best start to a season yet.

The NBA's commitment to YouTube is a different direction than those of the NFL and MLB, which both push to promote content on their own platforms. A search for “NBA” on YouTube yields 900,000 results, almost 50 percent more than the 655,000 for “NFL” and three times as many as “MLB,” which garners about 300,000.

“The NBA has always been really supportive of the platform under David Stern and Adam Silver, really pushing to find new avenues to distribute their content,” said Claude Ruibal, global head of sports for Google and YouTube. “They were one of the early adopters of YouTube, and social media like Google+ and Twitter. They really get the idea of amplifying their players and games using social media.”

Partly by design and partly by the nature of the sport, the NBA goes well with social media because its highlights are exciting and easy to digest, and its players are interesting and recognizable. The league’s star power is evident in the top video, which doesn’t show a second of actual basketball being played.

Here are the ten most-viewed NBA YouTube videos, courtesy of the NBA:

1. LeBron, Dwight, Shaq Dance Off (2007): 18.9 million views

2. Kobe Bryant’s Top 10 Plays of 2007: 7.9 million views

3. BIG Color spot (Nov. 2012): 7.2 million views

4. Blake Griffin’s Insane Dunk (2012): 5.9 million views

5. Top 10 LeBron James Plays of 2009: 5.8 million views

6. Kobe Bryant Top 10 Plays from 2009: 5.2 million views

7. Blake Griffin’s Top 10 Dunks of Nov. 2010: 5.0 million views

8. LeBron Underhanded Halfcourt Shot (2009): 4.5 million views

9. LeBron James' Top 10 Plays of 2007: 3.7 million views

10. Kobe and LeBron: Mutual Respect (2009): 3.6 million views