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Las Vegas Holds Court for NBA Summer League

Two-Week Showcase Attracts 17.9 Million Viewers on ESPN Networks, NBATV

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Social Media
Sponsorship Valuation
August 18, 2022
August 18, 2022
 min read

Every July, hoop dreams begin to become reality in Nevada. NBA hopefuls ranging in status from top overall draft picks to professional players with myriad overseas stops during their careers converge in the desert to display their talent for scouts, coaches, and GMs. And while the NBA Summer League is designed for teams to find and develop players that will complete their regular season rosters, it also serves as a chance for fans to satiate their offseason basketball cravings. This heightened interest creates opportunities for networks, teams, and brands to reach their respective target audiences through broadcast and social media. We used MVP’s omnichannel platform to assess viewership figures for game telecasts from July 7-17 on ESPN’s family of networks and NBATV while also examining social metrics from the league and its 30 teams during the same period. We discovered television coverage averaged 238,500 viewers for Las Vegas Summer League games, with fans tuning in for their first glimpses of players including Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic, Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a range of other rookies.

NBA Provides Summer Splash for ESPN

Summer months often coincide with a relative lull in the national sports calendar. Baseball is in full swing, but there is not much competition beyond big league ballparks from June until the beginning of football season in September. However, annually, the NBA helps disrupt the monotony by staging day-long exhibitions at the neighboring Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion just outside of Las Vegas in the middle of July. This year’s NBA Summer League comprised 75 games, and as many as nine in a day, with all franchises represented. Festivities began with a matchup between the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets squaring off on ESPN for an audience of 810,988 on July 7. Interest in No. 1 overall pick Banchero and Houston’s top selection, Jabari Smith, resulted in the fourth-highest Summer League viewership total not only for ESPN, but across all networks. Altogether, 2022 NBA Summer League games attracted 17.9 million viewers, peaking at 1.2 million for a contest between the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings on July 10. But while the average viewership was 238,500, that figure was negatively skewed by NBATV’s meager average of 68,224. Games across the ESPN family of networks earned a collective average of 404,294, with ESPN’s flagship network carrying the torch, averaging 625,006 across the 11 games it broadcast. Within that subset was the NBA Summer League championship on July 17. The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New York Knicks to win the title before a television audience of 511,719 – the thirteenth-largest viewership total overall and seventh-largest among ESPN games.

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League, Teams Build Social Momentum

For many franchises, NBA Summer League content was the first meaningful action to share with fans in months. Excepting the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, who were only three weeks removed from the 2022 NBA Finals when Summer League began, the teams’ social channels had been void of highlights and game updates since before Memorial Day. But from July 6-18, league and team social channels created a surge of activity on timelines across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Posts from team accounts numbered 7,873 during the period, earning 40.2 million engagements and creating 1.31 billion impressions. The resulting virality generated $24M in collective post value, led by Golden State’s $5.86M total. Also eclipsing $1M in total post value were the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls. The Summer League champion Trail Blazers finished eighth overall with $638,631 in post value from 1.23 million engagements and 38.5 million impressions. However, during the championship weekend of July 16 and July 17, the Trail Blazers’ total post value was $142,888 – fourth-most among all 30 teams.

The NBA’s owned accounts nearly matched the teams’ post value total during Summer League play, finishing with $23.4M despite sharing only 21.9% as many posts. The league’s content elicited 26 million engagements and accumulated 1.05 billion impressions throughout the showcase.

Title Sponsorship Elevates NBA2K Online

Among basketball video games past and present, NBA2K is the standard of greatness. Therefore, its sponsorship of the 2022 NBA Summer League was a natural fit. More importantly, it was a valuable fit. Posts performing for the video game title on NBA- and team-owned channels created $1.64M in brand value – most among all official partners – thanks to 11.8 million total engagements and 493.4 million impressions. Finishing second in total brand value from NBA Summer League content was State Farm Insurance, which was highlighted in 1,282 posts, resulting in $1.44M worth of value.

The only other company to surpass the $1M mark was Oracle. While the computer software corporation is not an official NBA partner, it does enjoy a collaboration with the Golden State Warriors. Largely as a result, Oracle realized $1.03M in brand value from a mere 175 posts during Summer League.

Two Months from Opening Night

Although 2022-2023 NBA rosters will not be finalized until after training camp, excitement for a new season is already building. Opening night is set for October 18, when the Boston Celtics will face the Philadelphia 76ers followed by a nightcap featuring the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. MVP will provide continuing omnichannel insights ahead of tip-off and throughout the upcoming campaign.

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