8 Stats That Show How Huge an Opportunity Instagram Is for Sports Marketers

Mobile app and the NBA dish data at Advertising Week

Headshot of Christopher Heine

When people think of Instagram influencers, many of them automatically conjure up images of Kendall and Kylie Jenner. But marketers should know that sports is absolutely huge on the image-based app. 

This morning, execs from Instagram and the NBA were part of an Advertising Week panel called "From the Olympics to the Pick-up Game: Instagram Talks Sports." They revealed these eight intriguing data points that show the power of sports on social media:

1. Shooting for mobile commerce … swish!

When the NBA season tips off on Oct. 25, expect the Golden State Warriors to be active on Instagram. Here's why: Late last season, the team ran a campaign on the app offering in-game highlights in real time while simultaneously running Instagram ads for jerseys and tickets.

Warriors marketers saw a return on investment, or ROI, on its ads that was 13 times better than normal, selling boxes of jerseys and, to a lesser extent, moving tickets to upcoming games. So, yeah, they'll give that real-time-plus-ads combination another try.

2. Smells like teen marketing

Want to be where the young folks are? According to Instagram, 30 percent of the top 100 accounts teens follow on the platform are sports-related. 

3. An athletic presence

One out of every three Instagram users follows a sports account, said James Quarles, Instagram's vp and gm of monetization. That's about 165 million accounts

"No other [category] of followers is more passionate than sports," Quarles said. 

4. Video rising

The Instagram exec added that video views are up 150 percent in recent months across the platform.

5. Pro hoops is slam dunking social clips

The NBA registered 7 billion video views last season, and it has picked up another 1 billion this offseason thanks in large part to the Olympics. Pamela El, CMO of the NBA, didn't break out how many of those were on Instagram, but it's clearly a sizable piece of the pie. For instance, the Instagram video below got close to 1 million likes


@kingjames & Coach Lue celebrate!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

6. Celebrity-driven interest

Eight is the average number of sports accounts followed by Instagram users, and six of those belong to athletes. Part of the reason the celebrity-players are so popular on Instagram is the way they consistently show off their fashion sense.

7. Big events

The Rio Olympics garnered 916 million interactions on Instagram with 131 million people globally. Contrast that with Super Bowl 50, which in February had 155 million interactions by 38 million people, while the NBA Finals picked up 186 million interactions from 26 million people. 

8. Soccer domination

Global football, or what we call "soccer" in the U.S., has almost as many Instagram followers as all the other sports categories combined. Check out this photo from today's event that shows the details: 


UPDATE: This article previously stated that the NBA season starts on Oct. 26.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.
Publish date: September 29, 2016 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/8-stats-show-how-huge-opportunity-instagram-sports-marketers-173809/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT