As marketing ramps up around the 28 October tip-off for the 2015/16 NBA season, new campaigns by the league, teams, official sponsors, sports brands and athlete ambassador led ambushers all look to leverage basketball’s current prosperity, to build on its success and perhaps even begin to challenge the NFL’s No1 position in the US sports landscape.
According to IEG, total sponsorship spend last season for the NBA and its 30 teams reached a record total of $739m: up 9% on the previous year. Indeed, recent growth rates are consistently impressive – back in 2011 the total sponsor spend was just $572m.
This data shows that A-B InBev was the most active individual NBA sponsor, while last season saw insurance (led by State Farm) overtake automotive (2nd) and beer (3rd) as the most active category.
The property’s health was illustrated not just by four new big 2014/15 partners in the form of Harman, Kaiser Permanente, Pepsi-Cola and Under Armour, but also that TV viewing stats for the 2014 NBA Finals averaging over 19 million viewers per game (with 23 million tuning in for Game 6). Those are the best figures since Michael Jordan retired and pretty close to the average weekly viewing figures for the NFL’s titanic Sunday Night Football.
While the NFL remains the dominant North American sports property and easily pulls in the most sponsorship income and the highest TV ratings, the NBA comes in second and is on the rise.
The NBA is now a truly global property: with programming in 215 countries and territories in 47 language, and featuring 101 international players from 37 countries and territories.
Little surprise then that prior to the new season start, the league itself has assertively launched a major new global initiative to attract even more general fans from across the world in the form of its ‘This Is Why We Play’ campaign.
Teams are also looking positively towards a brighter future – as illustrated by the Philadelphia 76ers new revolution-led ‘Since 1766’ franchise refresh initiative.
While innovative, forward-looking commercial partners –such as Foot Locker’s ‘Play My Tweet’ Challenge – are launching clever campaigns that master cutting-edge technologies that look to young fan groups and the future of sponsorship engagement.
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