Skip to main content

According to a recent report by the sponsorship think tank, IEG, sponsorship revenue for the NBA and its 30 teams totaled $679 million in the 2013-2014 season, up 5.7 percent from the previous year.

It’s mind boggling to think that over half of a billion dollars is being funneled to NBA via sponsorships! The NBA has really upped its marketability to brands by increasing access, showing players how to enhance their image both on and off the court, and by the campaign to foster continued growth of the league’s fanbase internationally.

However, in my opinion, one of the biggest additions to the NBA marketing arsenal has been social media. With so many characters in the NBA, past and current, owner and player ( Donald Sterling notwithstanding), the NBA has taken brand ambassadorship to a whole different level.

Social media is so important to the NBA that they are adding its Twitter handle to the official game ball. They are the first professional sports league to do so.

Derrick Rose shows off the addition to the @Spalding #NBAGameBall for the 2014-15 season!

Derrick Rose, of the Chicago Bulls, shows off the Twitter handle addition to the NBA game balls for the 2014-15 season!

Obviously they want to increase the level of conversation with their existing 11 Million Twitter followers. They also understand the value of increasing that base as well. How big is the NBA’s Twitter following? Currently they have more followers than MLB and the NFL…combined. BTW, that’s the league. Not the individual teams or players!

Whatever the reason, the NBA is the first professional sports league to put its social media handle on the game ball of its respective sport.

Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the league’s senior vice president for digital media stated “We have a young, tech-savvy fan base. This acknowledges our commitment to being apart of the conversation.”

While dedicated sports fans buy jerseys, paint their faces and attend games to show their loyalty to the team, in the past they’ve had a very limited role in contributing to and being involved in an organization.

In the past, sports organizations – like almost all companies – used traditional media channels like television and radio to broadcast to fans, to deliver a brand-focused message. Social media turns the tables and puts the fans in control of what content performs well. Unsurprisingly, this happens to be the content that focuses on the fans or pulls them into the conversation.

The idea of co-creation has major implications on how involved fans feel in their teams. By asking fans to submit photos, comments, videos and suggestions, and then highlighting this content on official channels, you not only show that you’re listening but that they have a role in your team.

Sports teams now understand that a fan that feels like they’re contributing is going to be a fan for life.

Click infographic to enlarge.


Barry Cunningham

Author Barry Cunningham

Barry Cunningham is an antagonist of conventional wisdom. Check out our case studies. They will give you an idea how we help brands & businesses amplify their conversion and lead gen campaigns by deploying digital advertising campaigns at scale. And I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter.

More posts by Barry Cunningham