SBJ/September 10 - 16, 2001/No Topic Name

AT&T to remain in NBA’s fold

The NBA has re-signed AT&T as a corporate sponsor in a one-year deal, returning the company as a league marketing partner for the 10th consecutive year.

While AT&T once held comprehensive telecom rights, for the second straight year it will gets exclusivity only in the collect-calling (for 1-800 CALL ATT) and long-distance categories. Meanwhile, the NBA is closing in on a separate deal with a wireless telecom carrier, sources said.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources said more than 80 percent of the deal was for media, including buys on Turner Network broadcasts, where AT&T returns with title sponsorship of the NBA halftime show. Also included in the package are ads on, TV, NBA print vehicles and nongame programming produced by NBA Entertainment Inc.

Last season, the sponsorship was used largely to push 1-800 CALL ATT, including a TV ad that featured Commissioner David Stern. This season, AT&T will also leverage its long-distance business to promote loyalty, usage and retention among its customers.

"AT&T is one of our longer-term sponsors, so we're happy to see them use our property even more widely," said Heidi Ueberroth, NBA Entertainment executive vice president of global media properties.

AT&T was the last incumbent NBA sponsor to re-up. All the league's other deals run concomitant to its network and cable TV deals, which end after this season. However, sources said the league is close to signing a new sponsor in the wireless telecom category, one of the few profitable sectors on the blighted telecom landscape. Verizon is a leading candidate for the deal; the league has also been talking with AT&T Wireless.

AT&T committed to a set level of promotional spending and will run at least one national promotion.

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NBA, Verizon

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