By Michael Lima, Mai Nguyen Le, Mnishi Sharma and Vidhu.
Toronto is known as a ‘hockey town’ but the Toronto Raptors are now Canada’s most valuable sports team. It wasn’t official until last August but the Raptors put themselves on that path in June 2019. The Raptors wrapped up the season with an intense NBA final against the Golden State Warriors, clinching the series in San Francisco in game six. This win marked the first NBA championship ever won by a team outside the U.S. and strengthened the Toronto Raptors’ position in the NBA League and Canadian sports.
From watching on TV…
A championship team can capture eyeballs, and the popularity of the Toronto Raptors during and after the game showed this team captured a record number of viewers.
(Percentage of audiences watching the final game on TSN and CTV)
On the day of the NBA Finals game, Canada's broadcast television recorded a massive number of viewers turning their heads for the game, making it the most-watched NBA game in Canada and the biggest English-language television broadcast in three years. Around 44% of Canadians watched the final game between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. Digital and television views peaked at 9.99 million at the game's last minute. Here in the GTA, 82% of all viewers in the Toronto and Hamilton area were watching the game either on TSN or CTV, meaning 9.43 million people were watching. The other 18% were watching something else.
To reflect on the value
The Toronto Raptors' NBA championship win resulted in significant changes in values.
(Toronto Raptor value throughout years)
In 2018, the Toronto Maple Leafs were ranked as Canada's most valuable sports team, $1.45 billion, while the Toronto Raptors were worth $1.4B. However, in 2022, the Toronto Raptors successfully passed the Leafs to become the most valuable team in Canada, with a jump of $1.1B since 2018. In the span of one year only between 2018 and 2019, the team expanded to $1.7B in value and kept growing through each year.
Global brand recognition and revenue streams have also seen significant growth. Additionally, the team's ownership has strategically invested in technology and fan engagement, further contributing to their financial growth. This impressive growth can be attributed to the team's on-court success and its strong brand and loyal fanbase.
Toronto Raptor does not mean only "Toronto"...
Raptors are not only getting big in Canada, but they are also spreading their wings to reach a wider audience globally.
(Popularity of Toronto Raptors all around the World)
This graph shows a geographic view of the countries where the Raptors were trending in 2019. Raptors were followed by people across 32 countries worldwide, and the most views and searches popped up during that year’s final. Now these numbers are consistent and growing each year with Raptors being a popular NBA team in new countries. The "We the North" campaign reached Raptors fans everywhere, not only in Canada. Smith Lung, a student from China shared that after the 2019 season, he got to know the Raptors and gradually became a big fan of them.
"People either talk about the Leafs, Blue Jays, or the Raptors. My friends in college keep asking me to see the raptors with them, and i did, never regretted that decision in my life."
The hit on social media.
Undoubtedly, their social media following increased significantly as the Toronto Raptors became the most valuable team in Canada.
(Toronto Raptors social media followers)
The team's Twitter account, @Raptors, gained up to 400k new followers between 2018 and 2019. The increase increased Twitter followers to over 2M and persisted for years. The success of the Toronto Raptors' 2019 NBA championship victory, which increased their popularity and global recognition, is the key to this rise in social media followers. In addition to helping the team gain new fans and keep their current ones, the team's engaging content and online presence also played a significant role.
And still well behind...
Even though the Raptors are the most valuable team in Canada, the Raptors still fall well behind in the NBA franchise.
(NBA most valuable team)
Toronto Raptors did not only create a historic championship for Canada in the 2019 NBA League but also made gains financially and in popularity that other Canadian sports teams may never replicate.