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TikTok, Big for Sports and NIL, Could Face U.S. Ban

  • TikTok, with an estimated 150 million U.S. users, is of growing importance to sports leagues and advertisers.
  • The platform is facing a potential ban in the U.S.
A general view of TikTok signage on the sidelines
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

TikTok is growing in importance to sports advertisers — but could face a ban in the U.S.

The short-form video platform has an estimated 150 million American users — nearly half the country — and companies are using the platform to leverage major sporting events.

  • Degree launched TikTok ads starring Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo around March Madness. 
  • T-Mobile supplemented its Super Bowl campaign with a TikTok ad buy. 
  • State Farm opted not to run a Super Bowl ad this year and prioritized the China-based social platform instead.

TikTok saw the largest growth among major social platforms last year in sports-related engagement. The platform’s sports activity grew 65% from 2021 to 2022, compared to 22% for Facebook and 8% for Twitter.

The WWE, FIFA World Cup, and NBA led the pack among major sports properties on the platform.

The platform can also influence college athletes’ NIL value. Many of the top NIL athletes by NIL earning power, according to On3, have huge TikTok followings, including Bronny James (5.7 million), Olivia Dunne (7.3 million), and Mikey Williams (2.1 million). 

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Banned in the USA?

However, there is bipartisan interest in banning TikTok in the U.S.

The Biden administration and lawmakers in both parties have raised concerns that the Chinese government could compel the company to hand over data on American users.

However, the anti-TikTok sentiment in Washington isn’t unanimous. Influential Democrats Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have spoken out against banning the app.

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