Victor Wembanyama during an NBA game. GETTY IMAGES

Like a dizzying coast-to-coast fast break, Victor Wembanyama hit the ground running in his first season in the NBA, which delivered record-breaking numbers across digital platforms in Europe and the Middle East. The French wonder leads all Europeans among the 10 most-viewed players globally on social media.

The National Basketball Association announced on Friday that it had its most-viewed season ever across the league’s social and digital platforms in the region, surpassing one billion video views for the first time across the NBA App, NBA League Pass and the league’s 18 localised social media accounts. More than 700 million views came from the league’s accounts in Europe alone, the most among the major US professional sports leagues in Europe this season.

Wembanyama, the San Antonio Spurs' prized rookie from France, ranked third overall with 1.3 billion views, while Slovenia's five-time NBA All-Star Luka Doncic was fourth with 1.2 billion views. Both were among the four European-born players in the Top-10 most-viewed globally on NBA social media this season.

Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks’ do-it-all playmaker and former Real Madrid prodigy, is one of the game’s most mesmerising stars along ‘Wemby’, whose first season in Texas has not disappointed despite the huge expectations that preceded his selection as last year’s number one overall Draft pick. The league’s 18 localised social media accounts in the EME region, which feature content in eight languages, generated a 100% year-over-year increase in views, and social media followers for accounts in Europe increased by more than 50%.

Luka Donic, of the Dallas Mavericjs, speaks to ESPN. GETTY IMAGES
Luka Donic, of the Dallas Mavericjs, speaks to ESPN. GETTY IMAGES

Current NBA champion and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, of the Denver Nuggets, totalled 618 million views, which ranked sixth overall. With his skilful passing and overall fundamental game, the Serb has helped redefine the center position and led the Colorado-based franchise to its first-ever title in 2023

Eighth overall was the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo with 558 million views. A two-time NBA MVP and NBA champ himself, ‘The Greek Freak’ is currently battling the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Doncic’s Mavs have drawn the LA Clippers as rivals in the West, while Denver is facing the LA Lakers.

As for the NBA Europe YouTube channel, watch time increased by 220%, driven by localised content including the weekly show, NBA Undrafted, available in French and German. Viewership on the NBA App from fans in EME increased by 39%, according to league data. The four superstars are set to compete for Olympic gold in Paris 2024 against Team USA, the clear favourite.

With his stellar, unprecedented and unique play style, Wembanyama has undoubtedly been the driving force behind rising viewership numbers, as Spurs games on NBA League Pass in France saw a viewer base bump of 177%. The Frenchman’s poster dunk against the Boston Celtics on New Year's Eve is the second most-viewed video ever on NBA social media.

Dirk Nowitzki’s exploits with the Mavs in the 2000s paved the way for German players in the American league, and Germany currently has the most NBA League Pass subscribers of all European countries. Thanks to the performance of brothers Franz and Moritz Wagner in Orlando, time spent watching Magic games on NBA League Pass in Germany has increased by 47% this season.

In Spain, where Pau and Marc Gasol share their own brotherly legacy, average TV viewership of “NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays presented by Experience Abu Dhabi,” which this season features more than 40 weekend games airing in primetime, increased by 48% on Movistar. On NBA League Pass, Spanish influencers Drafteados’ alternate in-language stream generated more time spent watching than any non-team specific alternate stream globally.

Turkey ranks third among followers of @NBA on X, behind only the US and the Philippines, mostly due to Alperen Sengun’s breakout season for the Houston Rockets. Turkish NBA League Pass subscriptions also increased by 41%.

The 2024 NBA Playoffs feature 56 international players from 24 countries and all 16 playoff rosters register at least one international player. Dallas has a league-high eight, followed by Boston, New York and Oklahoma City with five each. In addition, the three finalists for the KIA NBA Most Valuable Player Award are international players for the third consecutive season: Jokic, Doncic and Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, of the Oklahoma City Thunder.