The NBA is giving its teams more international digital and sponsorship rights as the league looks to broaden its already strong overseas fan interest.
Effective immediately, the NBA has expanded the number of platforms on which teams can distribute international content to include Twitch, Reddit, TikTok and separate team Facebook Watch accounts. Teams previously could place international content only on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
Teams for the first time can now, without league approval, post new and customized content that is targeted to fans in a particular country or create content that is for a global audience. Teams can continue to make available limited highlights from individual games on social media platforms outside of China. In addition, the NBA no longer will require translations for team-developed content in different languages. No live content is included in any of the changes.
The goal, according to the league, is to help teams better reach fans in international markets, and make it easier for teams to create more compelling, unique and locally relevant content in various countries.
Along with the expanded content rights, the league has made another significant change related to international marketing by allowing teams to sell sponsorships on Weibo, China’s leading social networking platform where all NBA teams have their own channels.
Effective immediately, teams can sell sponsorships on their Weibo channels as part of a test for the rest of the season. However, teams cannot use game highlights on their Weibo channels.
“We have tried to adjust our rules to grow globally, especially on social media,” said Amy Brooks, NBA chief innovation officer and president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations division. “What we have done is to enable teams to post content on social media channels and make it seamless. We want to align our rules by how social media works and we want teams to share their content everywhere.”
The new policies have teams optimistic in their efforts to grow their brands internationally and to cash in on Weibo sponsorships.
“Every team wants to build fan bases in different countries and now we can customize and centralize the messaging,” said Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin. “It is the beginning of a big move. It recognizes that teams have tremendous reach. My feeling is you will wind up with dozens of paying advertisers on Weibo.”
It’s too early to gauge the value of selling sponsorships on Weibo, but team executives said that offering ads on Weibo will drive the value of current and future deals.
The new approach comes as the NBA at the start of the season had 108 players from a record-tying 42 countries on team rosters. About one-quarter of all NBA players are international and all 30 NBA teams had at least one international player on their rosters at the start of the season.
“It provides an opportunity for teams to market themselves globally,” said Chris Heck, Philadelphia 76ers president. “We are working to strengthen our data intelligence that will allow us to target our fans’ likes and dislikes and ultimately provide content they desire.”