Challenges Facing the New Basketball League in Japan – Attendance

By admin26 November, 2015No comments

image: NBA

We just found an interesting news on the Turkish Airlines bj League’s (a professional basketball league in Japan) website.

– Average per game attendance for Turkish Airlines bj League(Nov. 23)-


According to this article, the average par game attendance up to the Week 8 is 1,471.

Only 1,471!!??

We understood basketball is still not a major sports in Japan. But this figure is too short than we expected. The bj League states itself as the entertainment, but the number of attendance is too far from the “entertainment”. Some of you might know that we have a different basketball league in Japan, the NBL. We looked into the number of average per game attendance for NBL as well.

NBL 2014-2015 regular season average per game attendance: 1,339

Unfortunately, this league doesn’t have great number of attendance as well. Even though the NBL set a goal to have 2,000 attendance, they reached only 66.9%.

We researched the number of attendance for NBA and other top leagues in Japan to compare with the league management of the both basketball leagues.


  • NBA (14-15):17,809 (Statista)
  • Baseball (Central League/2015)31,494 (NPB)
  • Baseball (Pacific League/2015):28,760 (NPB)
  • Soccer (J1/2015):17,803 (J League)
  • Rugby (14-15):4,719 (Top League)
  • Volleyball (Women/13-14):2,754 (V League)
  • Volleyball (Men/13-14):2,267 (V League)
  • bj League (Nov. 23):1,471
  • NBL (14-15):1,339



As you see the figures above, both basketball leagues managed lower attendance numbers than other famous sports in Japan. These number is one of the challenges facing the new basketball league, B League, that will start in 2016. This B League is the combined league of the bj League and the NBL in order to resolve the problem of the existence of 2 top basketball leagues in Japan.

But, we question this league how they increase the number of attendance. The B League regulated that the first division teams are required to have a home arena that contains minimum of 5,000 attendance. This regulation is a progressive one from the former 2 leagues. However, we think we still need a drastic reform for B League to develop this league as baseball or soccer leagues in Japan.

For Example, there are too many teams exist in both leagues. Which might lead breaking up the audience to different games as well as breaking up the great players into different teams. It is the time to reform the old system, and build up a new system from nothing to develop the basketball league as an professional industry. We are looking forward to see how the B League encourage people to come to the arena.



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