Youngest Ball brother, LaMelo, draws record viewership in league debut

So far, the LaMelo Ball business has been very, very good for Australia’s National Basketball League.

The youngest Ball brother made his NBL debut with the Illawarra Hawks on Saturday and looked like what you would expect from a potential No. 1 overall pick. The viewership for the game matched those expectations.

The Hawks’ first game of the NBL season against the Brisbane Bullets was the most-watched game in league history with more than one million viewers tuning in via live stream on Facebook, the league told Forbes’ Adam Zagoria. Ball made some history playing in the game as well, but with plenty of qualifiers.

The social media numbers were even strong, with a video of a Ball crossover drawing 2.6 million views for a league that rarely sees five digits for other highlights. The NBL’s Instagram account has reportedly doubled since last season’s opener, with average engagement up 250 percent on Facebook and 340 percent on Twitter.

Those latter numbers are no doubt tied to the signings of Ball and fellow top 10 prospect R.J. Hampton, who joined the league through its “Next Stars” program.

“These are huge numbers by any measure and confirm the NBL’s status as a global entertainment product,” NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said in a release. “There is obviously a lot of interest in LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton ahead of next year’s NBA draft but also the NBL and basketball here more broadly.

“Our games are being broadcast to a potential reach [of] 130 million people across the world, including the U.S., Europe and Asia, but our numbers are also exploding across all social media platforms.”

With draft hype likely to only increase between now and the end of the NBL season, the league could post even bigger numbers as fanbases start thinking about their lottery odds.

17 PHOTOSThe Ball family — LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMeloSee GalleryThe Ball family — LaVar, Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMeloHOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 19:Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a foul against the Houston Rockets in the first half at Toyota Center on January 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 30: Tina Ball and LaVar Ball attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on December 30, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 07: LaMelo Ball attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on November 07, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)KAUNAS, LITHUANIA – JANUARY 12: LaMelo Ball and LiAngelo Ball in action during the 2017/2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 17 game between Zalgiris Kaunas and Unicaja Malaga at Zalgirio Arena on January 12, 2018 in Kaunas, Lithuania.(Photo by Alius Koroliovas/EB via Getty Images)CHINO, CA – SEPTEMBER 02:(L-R) Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball, LiAngelo Ball and LaVar Ball attend Melo Ball’s 16th Birthday on September 2, 2017 in Chino, California.(Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Crosswalk Productions )LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 23:Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to the media during a press conference at their training faculity in June 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 02:LaVar Ball holds courd during The Los Angeles Lakers game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: UCLA guard LiAngelo Ball (15) looks on during an college exhibition basketball game between the Cal State Los Angeles and the UCLA Bruins on November 1, 2017, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 07:LaMelo Ball, brother of Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers, walks off the court after shooting baskets as part of a promotion during a timeout of a 2017 Summer League game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 7, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Clippers won 96-93 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 02:Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half of a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 13:(L-R) Ice Cube and Lavar Ball compete in the Four Point Challenge during week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01:(L-R) LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball attend the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Washington Huskies at Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 13:LaVar Ball sits with his son LaMelo as they watch games during week eight of the BIG3 three on three basketball league at Staples Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/BIG3/Getty Images)JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE – ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that includes celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human-interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Monday, June 12 included Diane Keaton (‘AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane Keaton’), Lonzo and LaVar Ball and musical guest Phoenix. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images)LAVAR BALL, LONZO BALL, JIMMY KIMMELBROOKLYN, NY – JUNE 22:Lonzo Ball the number two pick selected by the Los Angeles Lakers talks to the media at the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22, 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 22:Lonzo Ball walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 22:LaVar Ball, father of second overall pick Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers, speaks to media during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)Up Next

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