Yes, and It Counts: NBA All-Star Game Spots Sell Out

NBA All-Star Game
(Image credit: NBA)

The slump in the advertising market didn’t stop Warner Bros. Discovery from selling out its inventory across the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

“We’re sold out,” Jon Diament, executive VP for ad sales at WBD, said. “This is the best year we’ve ever had.”

Diament said that in addition to official league sponsors–big names long associated with the NBA like Kia, State Farm and AT&T, this year’s All-Star weekend has 20 new advertisers in the lineup.

Those advertisers are in categories including beer, tech, auto, movies, telcos and snack.

“All those big blue-chip type advertisers for sports are back in a pretty big way,” Diament said.

Last year, the NBA’s All-Star Weekend generated $27.3 million in ad revenue, according to Kantar. The All-Star Game itself garnered $9.3 million, with 30-second spots going for $65,847. The pregame All-Star Tip-Off Show brought in another $5.4 million.

Jon Diament

Jon Diament (Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

One advertiser stepping up big time this year is Nike’s Jordan Brand. That’s Jordan as in Michael Jordan, who played in a couple of All-Star games during his career as the GOAT of the NBA.

Jordan Brand will be the presenting sponsor of the pre-All Star Game draft during which team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo select their squads. The first 30 minutes of the TNT telecast will also be streamed live on the Bleacher Report app.

Jordan Brand is also sponsoring the Rising Stars game on Friday and Cartoon Network Special Edition: NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday.

Diament said WBD encourages advertisers to sponsor events across the weekend and across platforms. WBD is selling NBA All-Star inventory on cable, digital and streaming platforms, plus live events in Utah, where the game is being held. Many of those live, in-person events get televised, he added.

“We are having a lot of fan activations. It’s a very sophisticated plan that we put together with many of our sponsors,” Diament said.

In one activation, Shaquille O’Neal, the NBA legend who is now part of TNT’s Inside the NBA crew, will demonstrate AT&T’s 5G service from the arena floor.

O’Neal and the rest of the Inside the NBA cast — Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green — will be host a simulcast of the game on TBS similar to ESPN’s NFL Monday Night Football “Manningcast.”

Other key sponsorships include:

  • Kia is presenting the All-Star Game.
  • Carmax will present the 90-minute All-Star Tip-Off Show.
  • AT&T is presenting the second NBA HBCU Classic on Saturday.
  • State Farm is presenting All-Star Saturday Night, with the Kia All-Star Skill Challenge, the Starry 3-Point Contest and the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest.
  • The “NBA on TNT American Express Road Show” takes place in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday. 
  • And B/R Utah on Sunday features a Skills Challenge presented by State Farm.

At this year’s All-Star Game, one of the announcers will be female hoops legend Candace Parker.

“Sports is the new primetime,” he said. Very few NBA sponsors are looking to reach men exclusively as female viewership of big games is substantial. “Most of the advertisers are just looking for adults at this point.”

Diament noted that with the confetti barely cleaned up from the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl LVII, many of the advertisers in the All-Star game will be showing of their Super Bowl ad campaigns.

With the NFL season over, the NBA All-Star Game is the first in a series of big events coming up for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, including the NBA playoffs, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, NCAA March Madness and the beginning of the Major Leauge Baseball season.

“It’s the kickoff to our company’s dominance in sports in the second quarter,’ Diamant said, adding that it was too soon to gauge the strength of the second-quarter market. “We encourage advertisers to buy all season long, and second quarter is really significant for us.” ■

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.