Pent-up demand for live game NBA action is creating an advertising windfall for ESPN and parent Disney as the league returns to play in Orlando.
Over 100 advertisers to date have signed up to tout their products, according to Disney Advertising Sales. The company said there’s “great demand” from sponsors as ESPN resumes its game coverage on July 31. The league officially resumes play on July 30 with two games on TNT.
“Advertisers that previously bought the NBA are quickly returning, and we are also seeing new advertisers come into the NBA, including 25 new advertisers in the post-season to date,” Disney Advertising Sales said in a statement.
The burst of new advertisers is a heartening sign for the NBA and its TV partners after the 141-day break in the 2019-2020 regular season caused by the coronavirus. Top advertising categories include automotive, quick-serve restaurants, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, and insurance. Prices for 30-second ad slots are “healthy,” sources said.
Meanwhile, Turner Sports told Adweek it has sold out its regular season inventory. The 22 remaining teams in the NBA “bubble” in Orlando will play eight regular-season games each before the NBA Playoffs tip off next month. ESPN and Turner’s TNT will share early playoffs rounds.
ESPN will televise the Eastern Conference Finals while TNT gets the Western Conference Finals. ESPN’s sister Disney broadcast network ABC has exclusive rights to the 2020 NBA Finals.
ESPN/ABC, TNT, and NBA TV pulled in a combined $674 million in ad sales for the 2018-2019 regular season, according to iSpot.TV. But with the coronavirus stopping the 2019-2020 season in March, this season’s total fell to $549 million.
The 2019 NBA Playoffs generated $932 million in ad sales, according to Kantar Media, a 13% increase from the previous season.