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Brands Turn to NBA All-Star Game to Connect Amid Declining Ratings

  • Television down due to injuries, alternatives and too many Warriors games.
  • Focus on stars off the court as Hennesey launches, Turner celebrates its history.
NBA All Stars Kemba and Lebron
Jan 20, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) guards Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After NBA ratings suffered through the early-season, brands are turning to the league’s All-Star Game as a way to make sure they’re connecting with fans.

The reasons for the decline are numerous, from injuries to poor matchups to a plethora of entertainment alternatives, Turner Sports Chief Revenue Officer Jon Diament said, specifically mentioning a glut of games featuring the struggling Golden State Warriors.

NBA fans haven’t disappeared, however, so Turner continues to work on multi-channel avenues to reach them.

“[Millennials and Generation Z] are a tough demo to hit: they don’t watch traditional television or commercials,” Diament said, while noting the appeal of the sport. “These players do not wear helmets, have huge social followings, and that’s a huge appeal to that demographic.”

“There are a lot of live sports on TV to choose from, but live sports that matter, we don’t anticipate erosion for playoffs and All-Star Games.”

Diament said Turner is focused on building out a “360-degree approach” to the NBA. Now in its 30th year as a partner with the NBA, the relationship includes 24 hours of linear programming on NBA TV and NBA digital programming.

The NBA All-Star Weekend, a congregation of the game’s biggest stars, allows Turner and the league’s biggest partners a way to reach a broader set of customers, Diament said.

Turner’s promotions include the NBA on TNT American Express Road Show at House of Blues, featuring shows by musicians Anderson .Paak and Maroon 5 and an ELEAGUE tournament with NBA players, presented by Snickers.

The importance of the NBA All-Star Game to fan outreach was echoed by Charece Williams-Gee, PepsiCo. head of NBA and hoops sports marketing. Williams-Gee said Mountain Dew would be active all weekend, including the “MTN DEW Zone”- a new shot during the MTN DEW 3-point Contest.

Along with the 3-point contest, the MTN DEW Courtside Studios will be back for a fourth year to provide a pop-up experience featuring NBA and WNBA players’ off-the-court style, including partner athletes Zion Williamson, A’ja Wilson, and Jaren Jackson Jr.

READ MORE: ESPN Going All-In for Zion Williamson’s NBA Debut

“Dew is committed to hoops culture, and there isn’t a more culturally significant moment than NBA All-Star weekend, period,” Williams-Gee said. “Athletes, brands, and fans come together to celebrate hoops culture – whether it’s style, art, or music.

Outside of the NBA league partnership, Mountain Dew also has partnerships with 12 NBA and WNBA teams, as well as three national player partnerships with Williamson, Wilson and Joel Embiid, and six partnerships with players in local NBA markets.

The All-Star Weekend is also where Hennessy will launch its new multi-year partnership with the league, which was announced Feb. 10. The cognac brand will be an associate partner on the NBA Celebrity Game and presenting partner of the pre-game red carpet.

As Hennessy launches its NBA partnership with the All-Star Weekend, Turner will celebrate its history as a partner with a comedic roast for its renowned studio show, Inside the NBA, which will be presented by Corona.

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With the legacy partnership also comes a trust between brands and consumers, Diament said.

“Because we’ve had this marketing partnership for decades, we are able to activate with partners more quickly than someone fresh with a league,” he said.