SBD/Issue 32/NBA Season Preview

TNT Seeing Increased Ad Sales Ahead Of Anticipated NBA Season


TNT's NBA ad sales are pacing 30-40% over last year and the net has virtually sold out its inventory in the fourth quarter, said Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy. "I'm 48 years old, and I can't remember an opening night game being this important," Levy said after Turner's annual NBA on TNT media luncheon in N.Y. yesterday. TNT opens the NBA season tonight with Heat-Celtics and Rockets-Lakers. Levy: "That kind of excitement is spilling over into a lot of our business models." Levy credited the burgeoning sports advertising marketplace, which has seen resurgent spending in the automotive and financial categories. "The sports marketplace right now is just hot," he said. "We're getting a lot of our early NCAA deals done already. The NFL marketplace is pretty much sold out. Our baseball postseason was the biggest postseason we've ever had." Levy also pointed to the explosion of social media as a reason why ratings for live sports events keep increasing, with people on Twitter and Facebook alerting others about close and exciting games. "I believe social networking is a key part of why sports ratings are up across the board. That build-up of social networking is causing the live sports programming to have bigger numbers." With so much attention focused on the Heat this season, Levy said TNT will showcase the team's games the maximum number of times, 10. But he expects that interest to help other teams. "You say the Heat, the Heat, the Heat. But you also hear that Orlando could win the division. Chicago has an opportunity. Boston's going to re-set themselves. The Lakers are still the team to beat. Oklahoma City has Kevin Durant, who could be the best player. No one's even talking about Dallas."

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