NBA Finals: Reaching a Global Audience

Posted by Jamie Balkin

Global Marketing in the NBA

This year’s NBA Finals have been one of the most diverse in league history, showcasing the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors both with roster players from seven different countries. Off the court, the game of basketball continues to go global, as the National Basketball Association appeals to a wider international audience and builds followings in markets such as China and India.


Lebron James & Stephen Curry

According to the NBA, the 2015 finals are reaching viewers from 215 countries and territories: audiences are now listening to sportscasters’ commentary on Stephen Curry’s crazy three-pointers or Lebron James’ strong performance in 47 different languages. Tim Kane, the NBA’s senior director of broadcast operations, says those numbers have become the nightly norm for the league and the expectation for broadcasts during the regular season. What really sparked the growth in global audiences were the NBA’s thirty teams having more international players than ever before; at the start of the 2014-2015 season, the NBA consisted of 101 international players hailing from 37 different countries and territories a record for the NBA, up from 92 international athletes the year prior.

With the growth of global markets and international following for the NBA, fans both near and far will be rushing to purchase gear to represent their beloved teams. On June 11, 2015, The NBA and Nike Inc. announced an eight-year global merchandising and marketing partnership, making Nike the official on-court apparel provider of the NBA, WNBA, and NBA D-League starting in the 2017-2018 NBA season. Nike will replace Adidas as the NBA’s official on-court apparel provider and will become the first apparel company to get its logo on player uniform.

The deal extends a partnership between Nike and the NBA that began in 1992, when Nike became a global marketing partner for the league. Over the years, Nike has sponsored numerous NBA players, including legend Michael Jordan. With this deal, however, Nike now has global rights to design and manufacture authentic and Swingman (replica) jerseys, as well as on-court warm-ups and shooting shirts. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver explains:

“This partnership with Nike represents a new paradigm in the structure of our global merchandising business. As our exclusive on-court apparel provider, Nike will be instrumental in our collective efforts to grow the game globally while applying the latest in technology to the design of our uniforms and on-court products.”

Nike Logo, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

As a powerhouse international brand, Nike presents a huge opportunity for the NBA to grow not just in viewership but merchandising as well. Nike Inc. president and CEO, Mark Parker, is “excited to bring the full power of their global reach, innovation and creativity and grow the game in a way only Nike can.” With three of the most connected brands in the world [Nike, Jordan, Converse], Parker looks forward to capitalizing on the global growth of the game as a “successful strategy for both the NBA and Nike.”

Bringing a company’s message to an international audience used to require the company to choose between globally consistent or locally optimized campaigns. But now companies can handle both with the help of Lionbridge’s Global Marketing Campaign Management Operations.

Marketing Campaign Management

In terms of industry leaders, if Lionbridge were a sportswear company they would be Nike. In partnering with Lionbridge, clients gain access to the largest global audience possible while utilizing cutting edge technology. Proper marketing campaign management helps companies produce, deliver and optimize digital campaigns and content across channels and over borders with better efficiency, greater effectiveness and lower cost.

With Lionbridge’s global marketing campaign management solutions, companies will effectively translate and localize content as to set up strong global campaigns and connect with their top markets.

Lionbridge’s Global Campaign Operations solution will keep their clients campaign vision in sight while in-market experts appropriately adapt multi-channel content for each culture they are targeting:

  • Transcreation: Local translators maintain consistent messaging and ensure cultural relevance, tone and style within each market
  • Deadline-oriented: Campaign is Six Sigma-managed to meet strict deadlines while building ROI
  • Analytics: We will finish with a thorough review and analysis, allowing you to view your entire global campaign metrics

How can Lionbridge help you reach the largest global audience possible? Check out our site and chat with one of our representatives to learn more.

(Photos from Top, Left: Tiempo Extra, NIKE, Christian Petersen/Getty Images)