Basketball’s the most popular major US sport on social media

NBA basketball game

Updated on September 27, 2022

An updated version of this post is available here.

Everyone’s adapted to using social media, from yours truly to the last few presidents of the United States (for better or for worse). Sports—including fans, athletes, teams, and leagues—have adapted to social media, as well.

But what’re the most popular major American sports leagues on the major social networks? For this post, I define “major US sports leagues” as baseball (MLB), football (NFL), basketball (NBA), and hockey (NHL). Globally, I’m sure soccer eclipses all of these sports in popularity.


Based on number of page likes, the sports leagues fall as such:

  • NBA: 34,255,458 likes
  • NFL: 16,617,693 likes
  • MLB: 6,866,359 likes
  • NHL: 4,396,270 likes (plus 105,841 likes for the French version of its page under the NHL’s French acronym “LNH”)

Interestingly, the NBA’s very popular on Facebook, with over twice as many likes as the NFL. Baseball trails by some distance, but still manages to beat out hockey.


As for Twitter, here’s the sports leagues’ Twitter followers:

  • NBA: 26.5 million
  • NFL: 24.1 million
  • MLB: 7.76 million
  • NHL: 5.98 million

Once again, basketball reigns on Twitter, though by a much narrower margin over football than on Facebook. Baseball and hockey trail much further behind; baseball has not even a third of football’s followers. Hockey seems pretty close to baseball, however.


Instagram, the photo-sharing service owned by Facebook, is popular with sports fans of all stripes. In the United States, the most popular sport on Instagram is NBA basketball, as shown in the infographic below:

Infographic: Which Sports League Sees the Most Action on Instagram? | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Statista speculates that basketball fans getting to sit closer to the action (versus seating at football games) and thus improving smartphone-based photos helped boost the NBA’s Instagram popularity. I’d also note that basketball season runs from October through the championships in June; that’s much longer than football, which runs from September through the Super Bowl in early February.


Ultimately, basketball’s the most popular US sport on social media. I wonder if that’s from basketball’s expansion in popularity overseas. Meanwhile football’s still seen as a rather American sport (despite the NFL trying to play games in London); baseball’s popularity’s waned from its height decades ago; and hockey’s very popular in Canada, but trails the other sports in the US.

Photo by Eric Molina (Flickr / CC BY / cropped from original)

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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