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NBA Teams Score a Slam Dunk with Social Media

2 minute read | November 2018

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its member teams are often recognized in the sports business community as innovators in fan engagement. The league and teams have embraced the use of social media channels to keep fans interested through behind-the-scenes access, game highlights, stats and glimpses of players’ lifestyles off of the court.  

Nielsen Sports uses one, consistent methodology across media types (TV, social, online, print) to measure the value of sponsorship, taking into account the quality of exposures and audience size. An analysis of the 2017-18 NBA season shows that social platforms were responsible for delivering 20% to 50% of the combined media value generated for sponsors.

Last year, we tracked more than 1.1 million logo exposures on official league and team profiles and a panel of the most valuable media, broadcasters and influencers on social media. The sponsorship media valuation product, Nielsen Sports Social24 showed that brands received $490 million worth of exposure via social media during the 2017-2018 season.

Video outpaces all forms of posts (photos, status updates, links, etc.), producing 86% of all value for teams and brands, making it by far the most valuable content type across all platforms monitored in Social24.

Social24 has a panel of media outlets that capture the added value that teams and brands receive from highlights and news features on channels other than their own. Team sponsors also gain extra exposure from competing teams’ and official NBA social media. That earned value from media and league social media outlets was key for teams playing in the 2018 season.

On average, teams received $6.4 million in media value via earned profiles, 61% of the total value generated. Two teams received more than 74% of their sponsor exposure on the earned panel.

The 2017-18 NBA season ushered in a new sponsorship opportunity for brands in the form of a jersey patch. The season began with 17 teams having jersey partners and ended with a total of 21. Value from social media made up an average of 31% of total media value (including TV) for the jersey patch of the 21 teams monitored.

The Cavaliers Goodyear jersey patch earned the most of exposure among jersey patches in the NBA. Much of that exposure reflected the high-profile nature of former Cavalier LeBron James, as he was frequently featured in engaging team and league content. The creative execution of the Goodyear logo was also a major factor in the sponsor’s visibility.

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