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A Deep Dive into the Business of the NBA

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  • (0:30) - NFL and NBA Ratings On The Rise
  • (3:45) - TV Deals and Sponsorship Breakdown
  • (12:10) - Player Apparel Deals
  • (17:00) - NBA’s Expansion of Streaming
  • (22:50) - Sports Betting, NBA G League and International Appeal
  • (27:15) - NBA’s Social Media Dominance
  • (29:10) - Episode Roundup:


Welcome to the latest episode of the Full-Court Finance podcast from Zacks Investment Research where Associate Stock Strategist Ben Rains breaks down the NBA’s growing international business.

The NFL’s ratings sunk 9% last season as it fell victim to the much talked about cord-cutting revolution, among other setbacks. Meanwhile, the NBA’s ratings jumped to their highest level in four years during the 2017-18 campaign, much to the delight of the league’s national TV partners, ESPN (DIS - Free Report) , ABC, and TNT (T - Free Report) .

Marketers and advertisers spent 31% more money last season, to help the NBA fall not too far behind the NFL. Some of this growth was driven by the NBA’s new jersey sponsorship patches. Companies big and small have spent millions to be featured front and center across TV and throughout highlights on social media outlets, where they will live forever.

General Electric (GE - Free Report) , Harley-Davidson HOG, Western Union WU, eBay (EBAY - Free Report) -owned StubHub, and Fitbit (FIT - Free Report) were just some of the notable jersey sponsors in the inaugural season. Meanwhile, PayPal (PYPL - Free Report) broke into the NBA this season through a deal with the Phoenix Suns.

There are, of course, the league’s massive corporate partners, Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD - Free Report) , American Express AXP, PepsiCo (PEP - Free Report) , and others. Yet, the winner this season could be an little-known e-commerce firm that hopes to take on Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) .

Nike NKE is also a standout and is in the second year of its $1 billion jersey deal with the NBA. But the sneaker wars look poised to heat up with new competition from companies not named Under Armour UAA or Adidas ADDYY.

Plus, the NBA now offers a ton of ways to watch games live, which includes a new experimental way to watch that could become widely popular. It is also worth noting that the NBA has been at the forefront of legal sports betting, and signed an official deal with MGM (MGM - Free Report) .

Looking ahead, the NBA’s international expansion seems endless compared to its North American rivals, with the league already popular in China. And a simple social media case study across Instagram (FB - Free Report) and Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) will tell you a lot about where the NBA is headed.

As a reminder, if you feel that we missed something, or if you have any topic suggestions, shoot us an email at Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.

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