SBJ/July 21-27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Vegas’ Summer League heats up

The NBA closes out its Summer League in Las Vegas this week with attendance and TV numbers for its games there up and league officials talking about doing even more in the years ahead with what was once a sleepy summertime sideshow.

A record 23 NBA teams and one select D-League team took part in this year’s Las Vegas schedule, which was set to conclude today. All told, some 1,500 league personnel — including owners and executives, players, and staff — will have flocked to the 11-day event, which saw the league for the first time consolidate 15 tracks of business meetings and hold them together in Las Vegas.

“We look at multiple tentpoles throughout the year, with Tip-off, Christmas, All-Star and the Finals,” said Emilio Collins, NBA executive vice president of global marketing partnerships, “and we see the Summer League as an opportunity to create a lot more programming and raise the profile.”

One such programming element could be the creation of an NBA postseason awards show. It’s an idea that has been floated around the league for years.

The NHL has held its annual awards show in Las Vegas since 2009.

All 67 Summer League games were carried by NBA Digital this year, with 38 televised live on NBA TV. As of last week, the network was averaging 136,000 viewers a game, up 26 percent from last year with interest sparked by this year’s deep draft class featuring top picks Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Attendance at the games also was up.

While the basketball side of the league uses the Summer League to develop younger players, at least one team used the event this year as a marketing asset. The Sacramento Kings flew out dozens of their premium-seat buyers as an added benefit.

The Summer League this year also added its first presenting sponsor, Samsung. The league wants to bring other sponsors into the fold.

“We see it growing,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum said. “Attendance is up and it will continue to grow, and aggregate fans and NBA partners are interested in that.”

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