SBD/Issue 150/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Brand Integration Continues On NBA Telecasts; Is It Too Much?

Barkley Touts Fox' "X-Men Origins:  
Wolverine" In Promo For "Inside The NBA"
NBA fans seemingly "can't watch a game without a brand being thrust" at them, and the brand saturation could be "wearing down on viewers who might just want to tune in for a couple hours of relief," according to Andrew Hampp of AD AGE. TNT's brand integrations throughout the '08-09 season and during the NBA Playoffs "have prompted more than a few raised eyebrows from the blogosphere," but they have had "no discernible impact on TNT's ratings, which are up this season to an average 1.5 million viewers, nearly a third of which were men 18-34." Hampp noted BlackBerry during TNT's playoff coverage will "sponsor a series of vignettes featuring NBA analyst Reggie Miller encouraging fans to answer questions by using one of the devices." AutoTrader.com, Charles Schwab and Goodyear also all sponsor in-game segments. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox is touting the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" film in a promo for TNT's "Inside the NBA," during which analyst Charles Barkley "develops claws like those" on the title character. Turner Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales & Marketing Jon Diament said that deals "continue to be structured with a keen focus on engagement without too much disruption." Diament: "We want to team up with our clients to make sure the integration is very natural for the fan. ... When you see all these sponsorship elements, some of them are actually funny, so it makes for a fun experience of watching an NBA game" (ADAGE.com, 4/21).

ADVERTISING HOLDING STEADY: MEDIA LIFE MAGAZINE's Kevin Downey reported NBA advertisers through February spent $125M on games, down slightly from $128M a year ago, a "decent showing considering the major cutbacks by domestic automakers." And for the postseason, analysts and media buyers "expect enough demand from other categories to offset the cuts by Detroit." Horizon Media VP & Dir of National Television David Campanelli: "I've been hearing they'll be flat -- similar dollars coming off a very strong year last year." Downey noted ad demand "had been good despite the economy largely because advertisers are feeling good about the game." Sports Business Group President David Carter: "You have the opportunity for big-market teams to make a strong run and major players like [Cavaliers F LeBron James against Lakers G Kobe Bryant] in the finals." Downey noted there also is a "prevailing sense that because of the economy people are staying home to watch games on TV, rather than paying for out-of-home entertainment" (MEDIALIFEMAGAZINE.com, 4/21).

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