By Barry Janoff
June 1, 2016: Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant may be on top of the pack when it comes to NBA players, but State Farm, Anheuser-Busch, adidas and Gatorade know something about being on top of the NBA sponsorship pack.
State Farm this past season moved past Anheuser-Busch as the most active sponsor of the NBA. Some 83% of NBA properties report a partnership with the insurance company, up from 74% the previous season, according to research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
Anheuser-Busch was active with 77% of NBA properties, followed by adidas and Gatorade at 70% each.
Among all brands, sponsorship spending on the NBA and its 30 teams reached a record $799 million in the 2015-2016 season, an 8.1% increase from $739 million the previous year, according to the NBA 2015-16 IEG Sponsorship Report.
The increase easily exceeds IEG’s projected 4.5% increase in overall 2016 North American sponsorship spending and 5% increase in sports spending.
The $799 million NBA sponsor spend was also up from $679 million in 2014, $642 million in 2013 and $610 million in 2012.
The NBA, however, is second among Big Four sports in U.S. in this area.
NFL sponsorship spend was $1.2 billion last season, MLB reached $778 million.
The NHL is projected to hit $477 million in sponsorship spending in 2015-16.
Worldwide sponsorship spend in motorsports topped $5.3 billion last year, golf was at $1.7 billion and tennis was at $739 million, per IEG.
According to research firm Statista, which provides information to companies and universities around the world, global sponsorship spend on soccer will hit a record $60.2 billion this year.
NBA plans to add a new revenue source in 2017-18 season with jersey-front sponsor patches. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the move would generate approximately $100 million in revenue for the league.
That season, Nike takes over from adidas as the league's official on-court apparel provider.
Ad spend to support NBA programming also increased this season, up 12% from $390.2 million to $436.7 million through the Conference Finals, according to iSpot.tv, Bellevue, Wash., which measures and tracks media buys and viewer response.
The Top Five national TV advertisers during NBA programming were Kia ($14.3 million), Samsung ($14 million), Taco Bell ($11.6 million), State Farm ($10.6 million) and American Express ($9.7 million), per iSpot.tv.
State Farm this season introduced its "Meet the Hoopers" multi-media campaign, which stars Chris Paul (Dad), his teammate on the Los Angeles Clippers DeAndre Jordan (Mom), Kevin Love (son) of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Garnett (Grampa) from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Damian Lillard (baby) of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Anheuser-Busch is also second among NFL and NHL's most active sponsors.
This past season, Anheuser-Busch signed a four-year extension marketing partnership with the NBA. Under terms of the deal, Anheuser-Busch remains the "official beer partner" for the NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League.
As part of the new agreement, Anheuser-Busch expanded its marketing partnership to include USA Basketball and the league's Hispanic marketing initiative, Noches éne-bé-a.
Anheuser-Busch also has deals with 22 NBA teams.
The NBA's most active sponsors also include FanDuel (57%), MillerCoors (53%), Coca-Cola (53%), Pepsi (50%), Geico (50%) and Kia Motors (47%).
According to IEG, insurance is "by far the most active category" sponsoring the NBA.
Insurance companies are 3.2 times more likely to sponsor the NBA than the average of all sponsors, according to the NBA 2015-16 IEG Sponsorship Report.
Quick-service restaurants (2.7) is the second most active category, followed by travel (2.4), non-alcoholic beverages (2.3), medical (2.3), retail (2.2), sport apparel & equipment (2.0), lottery & gaming (2.0), beer (1.8) and banks/credit cards (1.7).
Eight NBA teams had sponsorship deals above the NBA average: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic.
Eight NBA teams had sponsorship deals below the NBA average: Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings.
According to IEG, the other 14 teams were at the average: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.
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