Samsung/NBA deal blurs boundaries between business, sport and entertainment

Samsung secures a deal with NBA

When one of the world’s largest electronics product manufacturers teams with one the most popular professional sports leagues on the planet, you’d expect some headlines. But Samsung Electronics is enjoying quite the increase in presence thanks to the company’s marketing/technology agreement with the NBA.

The signing of the deal going into the 2013-14 season of the NBA called for Samsung to serve as “the official handset, tablet, and television provider of the NBA, Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), and NBA Development League (NBA D-League)” in addition to receiving a lot more advertising on national television. While the technology has been implemented and used on the court in official replays seamlessly (at least as seamlessly as the officials’ stop-and-start committee meetings can be), the everyday hoops fan certainly finds a few other fruits of the relationship more interesting.

First and foremost is the new applicability of the excellent NBA League Pass online streaming product for Samsung Galaxy Tabs and other mobile devices from the company. While League Pass may now be viewed on tablets of all sorts, the software is now optimized for the Samsung format – a nice bonus for owners of this particular device. A bit less positively are the adverts for the ‘Pass which may pop up when using the Tab – but one can’t blame them for trying.

NBA League Pass on Samsung tablets NBA League Pass optimized for Samsung Galaxy Tabs

The NBA TV pregame show “Inside Stuff” is also sponsored by Samsung this season, though naturally that doesn’t mean too much beyond the hosts having to drop in the brand name every so often.

Inside Stuff by Samsung NBA Inside Stuff TV show is now also sponsored by Samsung

And talk about your merchandising crossovers: The arrangement between Samsung and NBA has seemed inevitable since last season when MVP Lebron James became a pitchman for the company’s smartphones and tablets. For Samsung advertising, the connection between the two probably peaked during game five of the championship series. During that game, Samsung ran a three-minute commercial promoting the new album by hip hop star/Brooklyn Nets co-owner Jay-Z – thus blurring the lines between business, sport and entertainment that much more at a price of minimum $3 million just for airing.

Lebron James Samsung Lebron James is still a face of Samsung tablets and smartphones

Week one of the NBA season this year, however, produced some advertainment which went above and beyond expectations. Within one week of its posting to YouTube, a two-minute spot from the “Always On” campaign starring James ran up nearly 10 million views – and this beyond its occasional airing on television.

So what does the Samsung/NBA deal mean going forward? Aside from yet more visibility for the likes of “King James” and Jay-Z, lots more of the same, we’d suspect. The only question is whether we might someday see coaches or commentators sporting Samsung tablets on court. This might even be a useful item for that troublesome play-review problem – except for one factor: Each stoppage in play means more advertising revenue during TV broadcasts. And clearly both Samsung and NBA have lots more product to push.
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