Sponsors Flock to TNT’s NBA All-Star Weekend

Ratings may be down for the NBA this season, but ad sales for the league’s All-Star Game remain strong.

According to Jon Diament, executive VP and chief revenue officer at Turner Sports, commercials for this year’s All-Star Weekend in Chicago sold out faster than ever before at prices that were “significantly higher” than in past years.

“We have a host of new advertisers that came in,” Diament said. Some of those advertisers also bought spots in the Super Bowl, which also sold out early this year.

“That’s becoming a bit of a trend. People are spending a lot of money on creative and that’s spilling into our NBA because It’s the next big sporting event,” Diament said.

The NBA is attractive to advertisers because it attracts hard-to-reach millennials and other light TV viewers. Turner’s ad sales packages include out-of-home viewers. Turner’s Bleacher report also reaches young viewers online and via social media.

This season for the first time, Turner is working with sister AT&T unit company Xandr, which provides advanced advertising solutions that target particular audiences. Xandr can also reach those basketball fans when they’re not watching basketball.

The 2020 NBA All Star Game on Sunday is presented by Kia. Autotrader presents the Tip-Off pregame show, American Express has the Halftime Report and Inside the NBA is presented by Kia.

NBA Twitter Live, which provides an isolated camera focused on one All-Star during the second half of the game with commentary provided by current and former players, is presented by State Farm.

All-Star Weekend NBA on TNT VR is powered by Intel True VR and State Farm sponsors aerial coverage throughout the event. AT&T, the parent company of Turner Sports, presents the Above the Rim view from Skycam.

Other elements of All-Star Weekend are also sponsored. American Express again sponsors the NBA on TNT American Express Road Show, a roast marking the 30th anniversary of Inside the NBA is presented by Corona beer, an Eleague tournament is presented by Snickers and sponsored by CDW, Lenovo and Intel.

All-Star Saturday Night is sponsored by State Farm. It includes the Mtn Dew Three Point shooting contest, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and the AT&T Dunk Contest.

Last Thursday’s NBA on TNT Draft Show, during which team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picking their squads.

The weekend will also include concerts by Anderson Paak and Maroon 5.

Diament said that advertisers are turning to sports as ratings for other programming on traditional linear networks plummet.

“Sports is more prevalent than ever on media plans based on what's happening within the entertainment space with folks moving towards over-the-top products and commercial free environments,” he said.

“We're doing incredibly well not just in the All-Star game, but throughout all of our NBA,. We're basically sold out through the playoffs. We have pockets of opportunity, but we've never been in a sellout position like this before,” Diament said.

So far in the first quarter more than 100 advertisers have run campaigns on NBA on TNT. While most are previous advertisers renewing at higher prices, there have also been 40 advertisers that didn’t advertise on the NBA on TNT last season.

Big categories have been telecommunications, insurance, restaurants/fast food, automotive and financial/business services. 

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.