NBA All-Star Weekend Gets Bigger for Turner

Though the Super Bowl was a bit of a dud, Turner is seeing a lot of excitement around the next big event on the sports calendar, the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 17.

Over the years, Turner and the NBA have turned the the game into a weekend-long event. This year, there is even more going on and Turner says it has sold out its ad inventory earlier than ever before.

“High profile sports are selling quite well in the marketplace,” said Jon Diament, executive VP for Turner Sports Ad Sales. In addition to selling out early, ad prices are “significantly” higher than last year.

Last year’s Sunday night game generated $45 million in ad revenues, according to Kantar Media. Turner took in another $16 million for Saturday’s activities and $5 million on Friday, for a grand total of $66 million for the extravaganza.

Advertisers in the telco, movies, video gaming, insurance and quick-service restaurant categories rushed to get in, along with the newer group of video streamers, including YouTube TV and Hulu.

Even during Super Bowl week, the NBA was in the headlines, with trades and trade rumor involving some of basketball’s biggest stars.

“That’s all good for bringing attention to the game,” Diament said.

But around the game, Turner and the NBA have created a weekend full of events in Charlotte, ranging from the long-running slam dunk contest--this year sponsored by Turner’s new parent AT&T--to a three year old roadshow featuring concerts, sponsored by American Express. There’s even an All-Star Motorsports Challenge, with Turner personalities Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Candace Parker and Baron Davis taking on pro NHRA drag racers.

The new All-Star game format, in which players pick who they’ll play with, has spawned a yet another made-for-TV happening: Nike’s Jordan Brand is the presenting sponsor of the All-Star Player Draft on TNT Thursday. Fans on Bleacher Report can try guessing who will be on Team LeBron and Team Giannis and win prizes including cash, a trip to All-Star Weekend and Jordan gear.

There will also be an eSports activation with Turner’s eLeague featuring players, celebrities and influencers playing NBA 2K19 Playgrounds 2.

Kia is the sponsor of the game itself, while State Farm presents All Star Saturday night. Taco Bell is presenting the Skills Challenge and Mountain Dew Ice has the Rising Star Game. Autotrader presents the TNT NBA Tip-Off Show on Saturday.

“The advertisers base is really strong,” Diament said, noting that the demographics for basketball’s All-Star weekend is younger and more urban than the Super Bowl’s. Still about half of the All-Star advertisers also bought ads in the Super Bowl, he estimated.

About 75% of NBA All Star advertisers are season-long basketball advertisers. “And 25% come in because it’s a special moment and they have a product release around that time of year and they want to take advantage of the hype of the weekend,” Diament said.

Similarly about 75% of the advertisers in the NBA Playoffs, coming up in the Spring, are also on board for the regular season.

While this year’s game is on TNT, TBS will provide a "Players Only" version of the game with former hoopers including Dennis Scott. Ads on TNT and TBS will be the same. In the second half, there will be another feed on Twitter featuring an All-Star to be picked by voting on Twitter.

The NBA on TNT American Express Road Show will take place Thursday and Friday. The event includes live telecasts of Inside the NBA, a performance by comedian Chris Tucker and musical performances by Zac Brown Band and Rae Sremmurd. In addition to AmEx, other sponsors involved in the Road Show including Budweiser, Mountain Dew, Ruffles and Intel. Intel will be showing off its NBA on TNT VR experience.

On Saturday, TV brand TCL will present a special on All-Star captain Giannis Antetokounmpo called Finding Giannis.

After the game,TNT’s Inside the NBA presented by Kia will be televised on NBA TV. TNT overtime will be available throughout the weekend.

Live streaming coverage will be available on and the Watch TNT app.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.