In the wake of Covid-19, sports leagues across the globe have been forced outside of their comfort zones in an attempt to start and complete their respective seasons. One of the more recent leagues to make its return to play is the NBA, constructing a bubble for players, coaches and staff down in Orlando, FL. While the teams and players have been adjusting to the conditions of this new environment, there is an increased emphasis on driving innovation and finding creative solutions to deliver value for sponsors and bring fans closer to the game. While the atmosphere inside the arena is dramatically different without fans, the product on the court and the creative integrations of partners have proven to be successful and extremely valuable.
From Michelob Ultra and Microsoft helping fans experience the action through courtside video integrations to new virtual overlays of team and league sponsors, the NBA has executed a return-to-play format that maximizes partner exposures in a fanless environment. This unique opportunity allows for customization of the featured teams’ partners and drives significant sponsorship value.
The GumGum Sports team took a deeper dive into a marquee rivalry matchup on Opening Night between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. Over 3.4M viewers tuned in on TNT to watch these two teams battle for the top seed in the Western Conference. Our team focused on evaluating the newest sponsorship assets that the NBA introduced as a part of the Orlando “Bubble”.
From our analysis, we uncovered over $11 million in sponsorship value from these new assets during the single national broadcast. While not all NBA games will be aired on national television or attract as high of a viewership, it is encouraging to see that these new placements are delivering significant value to supplement traditional sponsorship assets.
Additionally, the use of virtual placements empowers regional sports networks to leverage local team partners and incorporate different sponsors throughout the course of the game. As bubble play continues, we are bullish on the value that partners will see from their respective teams now and for future seasons.
Here are the six new placements that drove significant sponsorship value in the Battle for Los Angeles:
1. Virtual Floor Court Logo
The top new value generating asset that was introduced into the NBA bubble is the Virtual Floor Court Logo. UCLA Health generated more than $3.6M in sponsorship media value from the Clippers vs. Lakers game. The NBA’s execution of this virtual asset took the viewer’s perspective to maximize lucidity and visibility on screen. However, UCLA Health could have further maximized its value and gained higher exposure counts if the virtual logo had been placed closer to the top of the court in order to avoid being blocked by the TNT score overlay.
2. Virtual Apron Signage
The Virtual Apron Signage was tracked for Wish and Nike generating $3.2M from nearly 360 exposures, the most of any new asset. This placement also had the highest on-screen duration, appearing on-screen throughout the majority of game-play. Of the two sponsors tracked, Wish’s values were negatively impacted based on the execution of their logo creative. The light blue on black background allowed it to be deemed unrecognizable in many instances, which affected the quality score of the creative diminishing the potential sponsorship value. However, Wish did have the highest duration of all sponsors tracked (3.2K seconds on screen) clearly demonstrating that this is a valuable asset for all NBA teams.
3. Baseline Rotational LED
The Baseline Rotational LED placed third overall, with nine sponsors combining for $2.6M in sponsorship value. This LED signage was placed adjacent to the pole pad and generated high quality exposures from newly incorporated camera angles. The Baseline LED delivered high duration and exposures and allowed for each brand to “own a moment” of the game. Furthermore, it is important to be cognizant of the impact sponsor clutter can have. The NBA excelled by coordinating all on-court LED assets, including the Courtside, Baseline and Basket LEDs, to feature the same partner. This is a recommended strategy for all teams to minimize share of voice and increase time on screen for brand partners.
4. Sideline Videoboard
The Sideline Videoboard is a brand new courtside asset that features fans on a virtual screen throughout the course of the broadcast. The league partnered with Michelob Ultra and Microsoft for this asset to bring fans into the excitement of the NBA restart, driving close to $780K in sponsorship value with 90% of the total value represented by Michelob Ultra. On a per broadcast basis, Michelob Ultra will continue to thrive due to the clarity of their exposures with two logo creatives along the sideline.
5. Corner Vom LEDs
The Corner Vom LEDs placed fifth overall for the new assets in terms of sponsorship value. While this placement was not on-screen as much as the other new assets, the Corner Vom LEDs delivered high quality exposures from prominent sizing and strong creative. Even though this asset drove fewer exposures and on-screen duration, its quality score allowed the Corner Vom LEDs to drive close to ~$8K per exposure. Working with the production and broadcast teams can allow for an increase in exposures, which will drive a higher sponsorship value per sponsor.
6. Baseline Videoboard
The Baseline Videoboard was the least valuable asset that was tracked. Similarly to Sideline Videoboard, this placement was analyzed for the sponsors Michelob Ultra and Microsoft, generating $404K in sponsorship value. Increased camera angles will play a vital role in increasing exposure count due to a majority of the game being courtside camera facing. The behind pole pad signage is seen clearly when utilizing on-court camera angles that directly faced the basket and baseline.
Based on the analysis of this broadcast, it is clear that these new asset innovations deliver significant value for the NBA’s brand partners. The virtual integrations allow for clear customization on a team and broadcast-network level while the new physical in-arena assets are prominent, consistent and well-executed usage of LED signage. Additionally, the adjustments in broadcast production to incorporate more on-court camera angles led to even more time on screen for these new assets.
If the NBA has to begin the 2020-2021 season without fans in the stands in their home arenas, the teams will be able to replicate these assets to deliver additional value for their sponsors. In the hopeful event that fans are able to return next season, the top three new assets (Virtual Floor Court Logo, Virtual Apron Signage, Baseline Rotational LEDs) can still be implemented at all 30 NBA arenas before next season begins to drive additional sponsor value. The NBA moved swiftly but thoughtfully to resume their season in the bubble environment while ensuring their brand partners were front and center, and their new asset innovation should drive value for seasons to come.
For more on sponsorship analytics and results from recent analyses, explore more on our blog. You can also request a demo with an in-house expert to see how you can analyze and optimize your sponsorships across social media, broadcast and streaming.
Written by Jason Plush and Antoine Laurient