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NBA set record $1.46 billion in sponsorship revenue this season


Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors drives to the basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 19, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

Adam Pantozzi | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

The National Basketball Association made a record $1.46 billion in sponsorship revenue in its 2020-21 regular season, according to estimates by IEG, a sports partnerships consultancy firm.

IEG said the figure is up 6% year over year, and up from the $1.2 billion the NBA made from partnerships after its 2018-19 season.

IEG tracks sponsorship spending throughout pro leagues, including the National Football League. Its parent company is investment firm Bruin Sports Capital, founded by George Pyne, a well-respected sports executive and former NASCAR chief operating officer.

The NBA saw 13 new deals during its 72-game campaign, including from Microsoft. The tech sector helped the league bring in roughly $115 million per year in new spending. IEG said tech categories, lottery, gaming, telecommunications and banking pay more than $100 million annually for NBA sponsorships.

In a statement, Peter Laatz, IEG global managing director, also noted the NBA is within the NFL in sponsorship deals. The NFL made $1.62 billion from deals for its pandemic season. Laatz added “the star power, number of games, variety of sponsorable assets and global popularity of the NBA all contribute to the league’s continued growth.”

IEG estimates NBA jersey patch deals “total sponsorship revenue for the NBA and its teams has grown by nearly 70% since the last season (2016-2017) before that sponsorship asset was introduced.”

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center at Barclays Center on May 22, 2021 in New York City.

Steven Ryan | Getty Images

Teams including the Brooklyn Nets added new agreements during the season, bringing the total to 27 NBA clubs with patch deals. Motorola is the only company with multiple patches. The company has contracts with the Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers.

Said Laatz, “Some teams are getting more than $15 million per year for jersey patches and that is close to the $30 million a naming rights sponsorship can bring in annually.”

Companies favor insurance, retail and alcohol slots for NBA sponsorships. IEG estimates each of those categories has roughly 70 deals each. State Farm and Verizon are among the “most involved brands” as each company has 20-plus agreements across the league and its teams. Also, Verizon added 12 new deals during the season.

The NBA is now wrapping up its season as teams are competing for conference championships in the playoffs. The NBA Finals are scheduled to start July 8.


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