Video: Is MLB or NBA More Popular?

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Both the NBA and MLB appear to be laying the groundwork for a return to play.

But which major sports league is more popular? Well, there's a case for each. I talked to SI's Ben Pickman and "The Fantasy Exec" Corey Parson to get their takes.

Pickman: Yeah, I mean, popular is a broad term and so it depends on what you want to look at. Now, the NBA, of course, has the global reach. And if you look at social media as an example, in April, the NBA had more than 40 million more Instagram followers than Major League Baseball did. But of course, MLB has the quantity advantage. And so if you look at local TV numbers, according to Nielsen, last year in twenty four major league markets, the league led in prime time. Now ticket sales, they also blew the NBA out of the water. So, again, the quantity plays out in Major League Baseball. One other note you should know in terms of comparing MLB and the NBA, for the first time last year in 2019, NBA teams on average had a higher valuation than Major League Baseball teams, according to Forbes. And while it was only slim, 1.9 billion to 1.7 billion, that is a little bit telling potentially of where everything is headed that the NBA might be on the rise.

Parson: No, I think it's obviously the NBA on this one. Let's talk about those local numbers. Baseball is America's pastime. Nothing changes. It always stays the same. There's been no innovation, but baseball is the kind of game where those local numbers could be just because the TV is on, the game is on. I think that people aren't paying much attention to it. Unlike an NBA game where everybody can come tweeting about it, talking about it the next day, and then you look at the superstars. If you ask people who their favorite baseball player is a lot of them will still tell you Derek Jeter and he hasn't played in years. People will look past Mike Trout on the street and not walk past Alex Caruso. Just look at the NBA. It has reached an entertainment level that is much higher and is much more popular than Major League Baseball. Ultimately, I want both to come back, but I'll gladly take the NBA first.

Verdict: I'm biased because I prefer the NBA to MLB, and basketball to baseball, in general. But Major League Baseball has a case when you consider revenue, attendance and local popularity. However, the younger demographic, global appeal, and presence as a national talking point, make the NBA the choice going forward. If it isn't already.