NBA Viewership Slips, but Ad Sales Strong

The NBA All-Star Game will be held on Sunday, February 17, in Houston, Texas

(from Sports Business Journal, February 11, 2013) Despite a down year in NBA viewership, the league’s ad sales continue to climb.  Approaching the All-Star break, Turner Sports has already surpassed their advertising revenues from last year’s entire season.  Jon Diament, Executive Vice President of Ad Sales for Turner Sports, said, “We have the same inventory load, but folks are buying the whole season and the whole platform, so we have been able to increase rates based on demand.” As a result of this increased demand, Turner has been able to increase its ad rates from last year by double-digit percentages on various NBA outlets, such as TNT, NBA TV, and NBA Digital.

Diament explains, “In the past couple of years, sales were always last-minute. But this year, advertisers are locking their money down further in advance, so we are pacing ahead.” Due to this new financial flexibility, Turner Sports has proceeded to plan its television events beyond just airing games. For instance, this Thursday (Feb. 14), Turner has scheduled a “Slam Dunk Marathon” on NBA TV, preceding the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. The program will show every slam-dunk contest dating back to 1984. In addition, Turner has already prepared three, one-hour shows highlighting some of the game’s greatest players and their careers, which will all air on NBA TV the Monday after the All-Star game.

Brad Adgate, Senior Vice President of Research for Horizon Media, admits, “[The ad sales increase] is a little surprising, but throw in the factor that all of the league’s major markets have competitive teams, and the increased demand brings the higher rates.” Doug White agrees with Adgate about the impact of large market competition, saying, “It never hurts to have the New York Knicks as one of the top teams,” in reference to the New York’s impressive market size.

As of February sixth, NBA viewership is lower than the same date’s ratings for the past two seasons. Nevertheless, Turner is on pace to finish with one of their top three most-viewed seasons in the past ten years.