NBA Flexing New Muscles with Investment Arm

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Fan Fact
According to research from Altman Solon, nearly half of US sports fans (45%) are planning to watch the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar this month.

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NBA flexing new muscles with investment arm, plans to back more startups

The NBA is planning to become a strategic investor in more startups that share the league's focus on driving innovation on and off the court.

What's the deal?

Six months ago, right as its playoffs were about to hit an apex, the NBA hired a new executive with an extensive history of creating and fueling new startup companies. It was a notable addition even at the league office, where employees funnel in and out with diverse work experiences. A league known for basketball, media, and technology was now diving head-first into investment.

Last December, the NBA board of governors approved a new team within the league office, one that seeks out investments in outside companies. This investment arm, NBA Equity, is an expansion of an already-existing operation but has accelerated the league’s interests.

The bottom line:

The NBA’s equity portfolio is now approaching nearly 20 companies, with the total value of those stakes worth nearly $1 billion. While the league has been investing in companies for about a decade, roughly half of those deals have come over the last year.

Read: The Athletic


Netflix looking to get in the live sports game; streamer quietly bidding on leagues, rights

Over the past few months, the streamer has been quietly looking into acquiring the rights to a number of leagues and events, Deadline can confirm. In particular, deals were under discussion for several tennis tours as well as a purchaser of the World Surf League, as the Wall Street Journal first reported earlier today. Pursued to a variety of degrees, none of those agreements ever came to fruition, yet.

“Sports is the baseline now, we all know it, and finding the right properties, the right leagues is a priority, but it is always a question of the right league, the right deal,” a Netflix insider told Deadline. Officially, Netflix had no comment when contacted by Deadline on whether or not they were bidding on sports events or leagues.

Read: Deadline


Visa to auction World Cup NFTs for charity as 2022 tournament in Qatar nears

As the kickoff for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar approaches, Visa is releasing five soccer-themed NFTs to help raise money for charity. And during the tournament, it also will let attendees create their own digital art.

Each digital collectible consists of a series of colorful loops based on each player’s movements in the build-up to their goal. The pieces are painted in the colors of the player’s national team, and they include which World Cup the goal was scored in, the date it was scored, and the minute of the match it was scored in. All proceeds being donated to Street Child United, a U.K.-based charity that hosted its own international soccer tournament in Doha, Qatar’s capital, for underserved kids in October.

Read: Fortune


Working With Players as Marketing Partners

The sports properties winning at fan engagement have found that athletes are their most influential social media marketing partners. Collectively, they can have 2,000% or more fans than ALL of your official social pages.

In a review of Instagram post performance over the last year for NBA player and team social accounts, players had a 1,800% higher interaction rate than their teams’ official social accounts.

So how do you activate your players’ power? We’ve compiled our experiences working with teams and leagues worldwide into a play-by-play guide just for you.

Download this free playbook to help educate your staff and make this digital transformation with your athletes as easy as possible.


Free download: No email or registration is required to view


As Anheuser-Busch buys Major League Pickleball team, here's how brands, celebs, and networks are taking notice

When it comes to the defining sports in U.S. culture, pickleball likely isn’t at the top of that list, or even on that list at all. But, the racquet sport—a mishmash of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong played with flat paddles—is rapidly dominating sports culture nationwide and attracting a wave of brands looking to capitalize on its surging popularity.

AB InBev’s move to buy a pickleball team comes as the company expands its sponsorship equity model to be inclusive of emerging sports, and pickleball’s recent growth certainly qualifies it as such. The company’s move to jump in at the sport’s relatively early stages allows it to be considered a founding partner, having a say in certain sponsorship decisions and access to insights regarding players and fans.

Read: Marketing Dive, Ad Age


As NBA eyes streaming future, WBD could bounce some games to HBO Max/Discovery+ in “creative” deal

When the NBA signs its next broadcast deal, which comes up in 2025, the league wants to make sure that it can appeal to younger viewers plugged into streaming, while also bringing in a big check.

Warner Bros. Discovery President David Zaslav hinted that it may look at an offer that includes a combination of its soon-to-come HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming service, as well as legacy cable network TNT, which currently airs games. But Zaslav added that his team will be “disciplined” in its deal-making. “We love the NBA, but we’re going be disciplined in the end. If there’s an NBA deal, it’s going to be a deal that’s very attractive for us, and very attractive for Adam. I’m hopeful that we can do something very creative.”

Read: Deadline

What Else Is Trending?
  • HIRES: F1 has hired former Universal executive Isabelle Stewart as Head of Original Content.
  • WORLD CUP: BrewDog is taking a bold stance against the Qatar World Cup as an "anti-sponsor" in its latest marketing campaign.
  • VIEWERSHIP: The MLS Cup drew the highest viewership in 25 years and was the second most watched soccer match in English of 2022.
  • CONTENT: ESPN Films announced the completion of W. Studios’ first feature documentary, a film about WNBA star Candace Parker.
  • INVESTMENT: Liberty Media is investing in a football-focused digital startup founded by former NFL execs Mike Tannenbaum & Joe Banner.



US Soccer federation and Anheuser-Busch agree to multi-year extension

The Details

Anheuser-Busch is proud to announce its renewed commitment to U.S. Soccer as the official beer sponsor. The extension continues the longest strategic partnership in U.S. Soccer history, which began in 1987. With the refreshed multi-year marketing partnership, Anheuser-Busch will bring unparalleled experiences for fans to support the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams throughout the United States. As a part of the integrated renewal, Anheuser-Busch will continue to engage fans by hosting U.S. Soccer Kickoff Parties which take place the night before select matches and include live entertainment, giveaways, and guest appearances from influencers and alumni. Anheuser-Busch will also maintain its entitlement position to the U.S. Soccer’s Woman/Man of the Match award, where an individual player from each National Team is chosen by fan vote and recognized for outstanding performance throughout the year.


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