SBD/December 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Dialing It Up: Sprint To Announce Four-Year Sponsorship Deal With NBA

Sprint and the NBA today will officially announce a four-year corporate sponsorship deal, under which the K.C.-based carrier will become the league's official wireless service partner. Sources said Sprint hopes to have basketball-themed ads ready in time for the start of the season, which tips off with five games on Christmas. Sprint will also be the sponsor of NBA All-Star balloting and of a digital promotion centering on the Dec. 25 games. Sprint is developing an NBA Mobile application that will include live home and away radio broadcasts. Sprint is also expected to include the NBA in a new brand campaign. Sprint, the No. 3 wireless carrier in the U.S. behind Verizon and AT&T, has title sponsored NASCAR's top circuit since '04 and has been looking for another national sports sponsorship to complement that since losing its NFL rights after the '09 season. Sprint replaces T-Mobile, easily one of the NBA's most active sponsors since coming on board in '05 (Terry Lefton, THE DAILY).

YET TO LOSE A SPONSOR: NBA Dir of Marketing Communications Carmine Tiso said that the NBA "has not lost any corporate partners on Madison Avenue because of the lockout." USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy notes the "key question for the NBA is how much cash its marketing partners will be willing to spend to advertise their sponsorship." Sports marketing expert Ernest Lupinacci said, "Can the NBA still capture the imagination of millions of fans? They better hope so. People have lots of choices, and those choices have grown exponentially with the advent of on-demand video from Netflix, Hulu and YouTube" (USA TODAY, 12/14).
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