This week, some of the biggest events in sports occur—the NBA Finals, and the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. For the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks will take on the Boston Celtics, and in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers face the Florida Panthers. So, who will be watching the NHL, and who will be watching the NBA? Do all Canadians prefer hockey to basketball?

For our purposes, we are using the latest MRI-Simmons doublebase survey, which we have coded to Panorama in the U.S. for the 2024A release. Using our internal conversion tables, we have coded these variables to Panorama CanAm (update coming this summer) so that we can have the Canadian sentiment as well. We are also only looking at adults age 18+, excluding children who are sports fans. There is also some accounting for the differences in overall fan preferences, as it may be surprising to some of you that hockey actually has more fans than professional basketball in the United States. Also, when MRI-Simmons conducts these surveys, these variables are ranked on a scale of 0-10, zero meaning that you have no interest, and 10 meaning that you are a superfan of the sport. Keeping all of that in mind, let’s look at the maps and the fan bases closer.

The chart below shows how the statistics shake out for each sport. While the NBA has a higher percentage of people who have no interest in the sport, they also have more superfans. People are far more likely to be generally interested in hockey, however.

So how does this translate onto the ground? Hockey is clearly more popular in the Midwest and up, while the NBA reigns supreme for most of the southeast. While Dallas may be cheering the Mavericks on, people in Boston may find themselves watching the hockey games instead. Canada, of course, leans more towards hockey, especially on the east coast, where they will be tuning in to cheer for the Edmonton Oilers, and undoubtably wondering why the trendy tumbler version is the closest the Maple Leafs have come to a Stanley Cup in nearly six decades, but never mind that. The map showing the United States and Canadian fandoms is below.

As we zoom in on metro areas, it becomes clear that basketball is often more popular in city centers and urban areas, like the map below showing Detroit, Cleaveland and London, Ontario.

Which sport are you watching this weekend?