Having lagged behind rivals such as the NFL and MLB for years, the NBA has now grown to become a truly top global sporting brand. Last season, the total revenues generated by the league came to more than $10 billion.
It may not have overtaken the NFL, but the annual growth suggests it could achieve that goal yet. The remarkable rise of the NBA over the past few years is down to two things: a quality product and a smart marketing strategy that highlights what makes the brand unique.
Read on to learn how the NBA is leading the way with its marketing moves.
Promotional Strategies the NBA is Using to Drive Growth
There can be no disputing the effectiveness of the marketing plan deployed by the league. It is driving increased consumer engagement and revenue growth, but it is a multi-faceted strategy.
- Marketable content
Compelling and marketable content across multiple online platforms is essential to becoming a global brand in 2023 and the NBA has excelled at that. It produces a constant stream of videos, images, blogs and other content for both its own website and its various social media channels.
That helps to hook people in and keep them hooked. The latest stage in this part of the strategy is the launch of an NBA mobile app so that fans can get content updates even more easily.
- Audience diversification
The NBA has worked to add new fans to its audience base. For example, people interested in sports betting can easily find NBA finals odds online and being able to wager on the outcome gets them more interested in following the games.
Then there are women. For many years the NBA had an almost totally male audience, but it has been successful in engaging more females.
The launch of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) gradually drew the interest of female fans and it has been followed by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) then NBA China. These have increased revenues by around $550 million per season.
Now it is working to enlarge its audience in Europe by emphasizing players from a particular nation – an example being Slovenian Luka Doncic – in marketing the league to that country. This way it can capitalize on natural patriotic pride.
- Social awareness
Younger people in particular appreciate brands that demonstrate an awareness of social issues. The NBA is leading the way in that, from initiatives like the NWBA to charity donations by teams in the league and the well-publicized NBA Cares.
The league is now taking that part of the plan seriously enough to have laid out its social awareness strategy over a 10-year period.
Examples of Successful NBA Marketing Strategies
NBA Cares is one example of a marketing move by the league that hit all the right notes, but it is certainly not the only one. Last season marked the NBA’s 75th birthday and it celebrated that milestone with a special series.
The league collaborated with the Translation agency to create a campaign entitled NBA Lane. This ran for the entire season and was based around the idea of a street populated solely by some of the league’s greatest ever players.
It was primarily focused on video content that was tailor made to captivate both older and younger fans of the league. The agency has stated that it aimed to bring together the present, past and future of the NBA in its 75th year as well as highlighting the importance of it beyond just the sporting world.
It proved highly effective at accomplishing that goal and another example of a successful NBA campaign is the animated YouTube video series Game of Zones. This exploits interest in both the league and the TV series Game of Thrones to provide fans with funny and entertaining NBA-based content.
Future Growth for the NBA
The NBA is clearly not resting on its laurels. Alongside a decade-long plan for social consciousness promotions, it is looking to its official mobile app to drive further growth.
That is already paying real dividends, as the app has boosted watch hours by 50%, subscriptions by 41% and video views by 150%. The league is planning to make it possible for fans to buy game tickets and merchandise through the app in the next stage of its marketing push.
It is also seeking to exploit the potential of its increasingly global player base to build international interest. There are now players from 40 different nations in the NBA and it will market the games to each country with a focus on their home players.
The NBA is continuing to grow and has the sort of comprehensive strategy for marketing itself that shows other companies just how to become a global powerhouse.