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All-Star Affairs Attract Varying Audiences

Comparing Last Month’s NBA, NFL, and NHL Showcases

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Sponsorship Valuation
Published 
March 16, 2022
 | 
5
 min read

February is always an action-packed month on the sports calendar. The NBA and NHL seasons are in full effect. The Super Bowl captivates the globe’s attention. College basketball is gearing up for the postseason. The green flag waves at Daytona to commence the NASCAR campaign. Spring Training marks the unofficial beginning of baseball. And quadrennially, a Winter Olympics gets added to the mix. But also included in the hyper-competitive array of events are three exciting exhibitions featuring the world’s greatest athletes. The NBA All-Star Game, NFL Pro Bowl, and NHL All-Star Game are annual traditions that allow the best players to converge in fun-filled spectacles as treats for the fans and premier showcases for the leagues and their partners. This year, Las Vegas pulled double duty on February’s opening weekend as it hosted the NHL All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena and NFL Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on consecutive days, as well as ancillary events such as skills challenges in the week leading up to the main events. Two weeks later, the NBA All-Star Game and its related activities took place in Cleveland. We utilized MVP’s broadcast platform to monitor viewership during these events as well as how that translated into value for title sponsors and league partners.

Pro Bowl Viewership Reigns Supreme

The NFL dominates its rival leagues in viewership numbers during the regular season and playoffs, so it is no surprise that the pattern remains during All-Star events. This year’s Pro Bowl aired on ABC – and was simulcast on ESPN and Disney XD – with 9.53 million viewers tuning in to watch the AFC earn a victory in the Raiders’ home stadium. The lofty total eclipsed that of the NBA and NHL All-Star Games combined. TNT broadcast the hardwood showcase in primetime on February 20, helping it earn 4.19 million viewers, while an NHL matinee a day ahead of the Pro Bowl drew 3.46 million viewers on ABC. A notable trend emerged for each, however, as they all performed relatively well in their host cities. While Las Vegas is only the 40th-largest designated market area for televisions in the U.S., the Pro Bowl ranked 30th and the NHL All-Star Game ranked 22nd comparatively for viewership. The DMA encompassing Cleveland, Canton, and Akron, OH, is 19th in terms of size, but ranked 7th in viewership totals for the NBA All-Star Game, peaking at 62,876 viewers.

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Steady Viewership for Star-Studded Events

In addition to tracking total viewers of the All-Star events, we monitored minute-to-minute viewership during the broadcast windows for each to evaluate trends and valuation spikes for league partners. We found all three games maintained relatively steady viewership, but the Pro Bowl had the most pronounced ebbs and flows, achieving its peak audience of 5.32 million viewers near the beginning of the broadcast’s final half-hour. The NHL and NBA games both peaked closer to their conclusions. As the Metropolitan Division was securing its victory on ice over the Central Division, NHL viewership on ABC was 2.59 million. Similarly, with LeBron James burying a step-back jumper to win the NBA All-Star Game in his hometown, TNT drew 1.75 million viewers in its broadcast’s final minutes. Notably, the NHL’s peak viewership was higher than the NBA’s despite having lower total viewership. This can be attributed to a larger set of unique viewers tuning in to the NBA All-Star Game at different points during the broadcast, while the NHL All-Star Game’s viewers tended to watch for consistently longer periods.

Top NFL, NBA Partners Eclipse $1M in Value

All-Star Games provide myriad branding opportunities for league partners. Company logos are plentiful on stadium signage, playing areas, apparel, equipment, and various other elements. In part due to its triumphant viewership totals, the Pro Bowl produced the most value for associated sponsors. Logo prominence was among the other factors that enabled NFL partners to outearn their NBA and NHL counterparts despite receiving less airtime. Progressive Insurance led all partners across the three leagues with $2.27M worth of value generated throughout the Pro Bowl broadcast, during which its branding was shown for six minutes and 18 seconds. USAA and Allegiant Air also generated more than seven figures’ worth of brand value, earning $1.89M and $1.1M, respectively. Although it is not an NFL-specific partner, Allegiant Air earned its value through a stadium naming rights partnership with the football facility in Las Vegas. Rocket Mortgage, whose name is on the arena in Cleveland where the NBA All-Star Game was played, earned $76,384 worth of broadcast value, while T-Mobile received $39,389 as a result of its naming rights partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights’ arena.

The NBA’s top earner during its All-Star Game last month was CarMax, which parlayed one hour, 55 minutes, and 34 seconds of exposure into $1.58M worth of brand value. AT&T with $955,474 in brand value and Kia Motors with $872,076 rounded out the Association’s top three. The title sponsor of this year’s NHL All-Star Game, Honda, led all league partners with $766,507 in brand value. Geico finished second with $624,519 in value created, and Adidas – which served as the game’s apparel and jersey patch partner – placed third with $434,089.

True Winners Are Fans, League Sponsors

The outcomes of All-Star Games are afterthoughts to the memorable moments created during each event. Few will long remember victories by the AFC, Metropolitan Division, or Team LeBron, but many of the millions who tuned in will presumably be able to recall watching the competitions with friends and fellow enthusiasts – and the games may have even made new fans out of some individuals. Moreover, the impressions made by league partners justify their investments and contribute to the cumulative value amassed during the regular season and playoffs. Stay connected with MVP for a special NFL valuation report regarding Super Bowl LVI in the coming days, and also watch for further NBA and NHL partnership evaluations with each sport’s postseason on the horizon.

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