National Basketball Association: A Case Study
The Marketing Plan
1.0 Executive Summary
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States, with 30 teams representing 28 US markets and one in Canada . Additionally, the NBA also oversees properties such as the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA, comprised of 14 teams); NBA Development League (NBADL, comprised of 16 teams); NBA Entertainment (online websites and interactive media); and NBA TV (cable TV channel offering news, original programming, and live game broadcasts).
Although the game of basketball was founded by Dr. James Naismith accidentally in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, it has garnered global attention with the evolution of the NBA and its talented athletes. Basketball is now played in more than 70 countries worldwide , the best 12 of whom are competing in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China . As of 16 April 2008, the NBA featured 76 international players from 31 countries and territories in its team rosters . The globalization of the game of basketball augurs well not only for the general acceptance of the sport, but also for the extraordinary growth opportunity for the NBA. Currently, the NBA operates primarily in the US. However, with increasing awareness of the league, its teams, and players in global markets such as China and Europe, the NBA is taking notice. It formed NBA China, a new entity to conduct all of its businesses in Greater China with Tim Chen as its CEO . David Stern — NBA commissioner — also entertained the idea of NBA Europe, an entity that would be similar to NBA China, at his "State of the Game" address during the week of the All-Star games in New Orleans .
In addition to recognizing and responding to the global interest in basketball, the NBA also promotes its teams and players around the world in an effort to market the league's domestic activities. Despite losing a global icon in Micheal Jordan when he retired in 2003, the NBA has continued to promote several players including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Shaquille O'Neal. The collective endorsements of these athletes totaled more than $60M in 2007 and all four were in the US top ten list of professional athletes with highest endorsements . The NBA routinely holds exhibition games with its star players in countries outside the United States with a two-fold objective — to spread the game of basketball and to gain popularity and visibility of its teams, players, and activities. So far, this practice has helped the league make inroads into achieving both these objectives.
The three principals on the management team at the NBA — David Stern as Commissioner, Adam Silver as Deputy Commissioner and COO, and Heidi Ueberroth as President of Global Marketing Partnerships and International Business Operations — have over 20 years of combined personal and industry experience. Their extensive experience provides the NBA with the empirical information as well as the passion to grow and celebrate the game of basketball. By NBA: A Case Study 2
the end of their tenures at the NBA, they will have directly contributed to the game of basketball reaching new frontiers.
2.0 Situation Analysis
The NBA is currently in its 62nd year of operation. Its programs have been well received, and continued marketing will be key to the development of brand and product awareness as well as the growth of its audience. The NBA is "one of the premier sports and entertainment enterprises ... delivering joy and excitement to hundreds of millions of basketball fans all over the world. " Over the course of the last 24 years, the NBA has enjoyed a fifteen-fold increase in revenues; its games are televised in 215 countries and 41 languages; and its websites (NBA.com, WNBA.com, and NBADLEAGUE.com) attract more than 5M visitors a day, with more than half of them coming from outside the US .
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