NBA scores major sponsors, builds revenue for its site

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The National Basketball Association has turned its brand-building Web site into a revenue generating media vehicle, with Champion Products, Konami, Microsoft Corp. and Schick Shaving Products set to start advertising there within the next two months.


A total of 11 advertisers will make an appearance on the site during the first half of the current season. That's up from one advertiser--Schick--during all of last season.

While the advertisers are mostly NBA sponsors and licensees, NBA executives say the Web site is generating incremental revenue for the league.

"It's paid media, not just some kind of bonus mechanism," said Mike Steven, VP-marketing partnerships at NBA Properties, the league's marketing arm.

There's no set rate card; the NBA will customize ad packages for sponsors.

Mr. Steven links the ad growth with the increase in traffic.

"Our traffic has increased five times over last year and our revenue has increased by four times," he said.

The NBA says the site generated 500,000 hits per week last year. This season, it's been getting 2.5 million hits per week, or about 700,000 visits.


Schick next month will begin sponsoring content about the league's rookies, a program that supports a larger NBA marketing platform tied to the Schick Rookie Game held during NBA All-Star Weekend.

Electronic Arts recently began sponsoring an "NBA at 50"-themed feature called "Tournament of Champions," an interactive game that pits 16 past NBA championship teams against each other. The sponsorship promotes the EA brand and refers back to the NBA-licensed game that EA markets.


McDonald's Corp., which sponsors traditional balloting for the NBA 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland, is doing the same online.

The NBA's site, produced in conjunction with Starwave Corp. and ESPN, was redesigned this fall to offer several new elements. New features include an NBA store, with licensed merchandise that can be purchased via the site; " Special Delivery," an e-mail service that delivers news and notes about the league and discounts to "The NBA Store"; and links to expanded versions of Web sites for all 29 teams.

The site also features special content devoted to the league's season-long "NBA at 50" anniversary celebration.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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