The All-Star Game, the backbone of business and the NBA’s international showcase

Eyes full of stars.It’s youno Sunday no Like other basketball watchers and fans. The next night, Sunday, February 20 at 2 a.m. in France, the NBA All-Star Game will be played in Cleveland. It’s an extravaganza among the best players on the planet. The stakes for this game go far beyond the sports framework, as it has become a mainstay of the development of the famous American league over the years.

Despite an 18% decline in TV viewership in 2021 compared to 2020 — which could be explained by the impact of the health crisis — the All-Star Game remained the most-watched game of the last NBA season, with cumulative U.S. viewership of 5.94 million according to Nielsen data. When we know that the current TV rights contract runs from 2016 until 2025, with the NBA totaling $27 billion (nearly 24 billion euros) tied to its broadcaster, we realize how important this game is to maintaining audiences , and therefore the relationship.

Teams line up before the start of the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7, 2021.  (BUTCH DILL/MAXPPP)

The All-Star Game has become an important conference of the NBA season, one of the pillars of its business, especially its international openness.and itThis goes well beyond the simple occasional relocation of events outside the continental United States, such as the 2016 celebration in neighboring Toronto, Canada. You just have to listen to Nicolas Bermond, director of media distribution for NBA Europe, talk about the distribution system on a global scale to make it happen:”Sunday’s game will be broadcast in 215 territories, with commentary in 60 languages ​​on 120 TV channels, including 46 in Europe.“Broadcasting far beyond the US.”This year, despite the unhelpful health conditions, there will be a slew of foreign channels on the scene, including several special correspondents from Mongolian TV channels who will provide follow-ups and commentary.Tom Marchesi, director of communications for NBA Europe, added.

Not bad for the first event in Boston on March 2, 1951, with over 10,000 spectators! Attendance was already well above the average for other conferences, which was around 3,500 viewers.

The governing body sees this as a promising sign and a ray of sunshine the league really needs. Because at that time, the image of basketball in the hearts of the public was not good. The very young NBA (founded in 1946) wanted to create a game from the ground up that was meant to showcase the sport in a better way than the scandals it just sparked, especially at the collegiate level.

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks vs. Michael Jordan of the Washington Wizards on February 9, 2003.  (Jeff Haynes/AFP)

The idea of ​​this exhibition meeting between two teams made up of the best players was the result of discussions between three of the most influential figures in the NBA in the 1950s: league owner Maurice Podoloff, publicity manager Haskell Cohen and Walter A. Brown, owners of the Celtics. Confident in future success, the latter not only offered to host the game at the Celtics Hall, but also covered all costs incurred by the event. The trash back then was very domestic, which is no longer the case today.

However, the economic factors of the domestic All-Star Game cannot be ignored, because the 2010 All-Star Game created a basketball game attendance record. 108,000 people gathered at the Cowboys football stadium in Arlington, Texas.

As noted by Boris Helleu, a teacher, researcher and lecturer in marketing at the University of Caen, beyond the audience and attendance, the impact of the event on the host city is huge. physical education:”This is a major issue, one that is very prominent in the United States. Generally, it is the host city that communicates this, not the NBA itself. We expect 150,000 people to come from outside, and all the numbers we found in the previous edition were in the $100 million range (revenue at the local level).“This year, Cleveland lived at the pace of the NBA all weekend, in the halls of the Cavaliers, and elsewhere in town.

The All-Star Game has really changed dramatically over the years, and it’s truly been a great weekend of animation. For more than 70 years, the NBA has worked hard to evolve it into a three-day basketball extravaganza while keeping the competition between star players at the top of the gondola. For the NBA, it’s an opportunity to present itself to a wider audience than those who are tirelessly watching the regular season and playoffs.

On Friday, we started with a celebrity contest where celebrities from music, movies and even fashion challenge each other with an orange ball in hand. In the evening, Nova is held. It was a meeting between some of the best young players of the time, formerly known as the Rookie Game or Rookie Challenge. Saturday is devoted to a variety of games, including the can’t-miss 3-point contest and a very spectacular dunk contest. While waiting for the end of the weekend at the peak, some entertainment fills the day on Sunday: The Star Game. During these three days, the NBA’s focus is complete.

The media coverage of the NBA through this All-Star Weekend is Global and international, especially on social networks. These not only complement coverage of the event, as they have become the main entry point for the public. Now, it’s simplistic or even incorrect to measure audience numbers for events like the All-Star Game solely by TV audiences. For example, in the 2021 edition, fan engagement on Instagram broke all records, as Nicolas Bermond recalls: “During the 2021 Sunday All-Star Weekend, the NBA generated more views than any other account on the platform. Including Instagram Reels [vidéos courtes]the NBA generated more than 139 million views on Sunday’s upload.

As Boris Helleu points out, well-known influencers are welcome to come to the event, report in their own way, and present it to a wide audience in a different way:”We remember the three stars Tik Tok, Addison Rae, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio were invited to the 2020 event in Chicago to great fanfare to promote their millions of subscribers.

Nicholas Bermonds confirmed this: “Everything was shut down last year, but in Chicago, there were a lot of influencers covering the event when they weren’t professional journalists or TV broadcasters. This All-Star Weekend also allows most partners to be invited and serves as the communication platform the NBA uses to make announcements: “For example, during All-Star Weekend, we announced the launch of the African Basketball League.” Technological innovations are also present here. So, among all the events over the weekend, the NBA hosted a tech summit, where the biggest names from influential companies in the field came to discuss progress from a technology standpoint and a lot of digital media.

For Boris Heller, “Interestingly, the All-Star Game has been used by the NBA as a laboratory for digital innovation. Early on, from the early 2010s, we remember the partnership with Twitter on things that now seem outdated, like special emojis. We entered a hashtag with the player’s name, next to the avatar of the same player.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks during the NBA All-Star Game on March 7, 2021 in Atlanta.  (BUTCH DILL/MAXPPP)

The goal is often to help innovate in broadcasting the All-Star Game or other games throughout the season. Along those lines, the 2015 NBA made Sunday and Saturday games fully available in virtual reality.

The technology needs further refinement to democratize, but it’s emblematic of the NBA’s desire to bring a basketball game to fans around the world as if they were there, without having to step out of the living room.

Between partner activations (local or digital), tech innovations, music, upcoming concerts, etc… NBA finally becomes a lifestyle brand“, Boris Helleu concluded. The logo puts Cleveland at the center of world basketball this weekend.

Alexandre Martin, Director of Development, TrashTalk

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