This year has been monumental for the NBA. Golden State elevated the game forever through “Small Ball” and its “Lineup of Death” leaving records in its wake. Unanimous Kia MVP Steph Curry sank more than 400 three-pointers during the regular season, smashing his own record, to lead the Warriors to 73 wins making them the most winningest team in the history of the NBA.
The Warriors ascension is visualized through the team’s social media engagements throughout the season. Thus far, Golden State has earned over 8.2 million social media engagements across Facebook and Twitter, nearly double the Cleveland’s 4.3 million making the Warriors the fan favorite in The Finals.
Game 1 of The Finals unfolded quite differently for Cleveland and Golden State. While superstars Kyrie Irving and LeBron James led the Cavaliers in scoring, it was Shaun Livingston from Steve Kerr’s bench that carried the Warriors to victory.
Livingston recorded a personal postseason best with 20 points. The result also earned him a 66x lift in social media engagement.
Social media engagement and TV rebroadcast data reveal several key moments that sent viewers aflutter in the social sphere during Game 1. The final whistle of the Warriors victory was the biggest moment followed by the postgame press conference. Viewers also turned to social media on the small screen during halftime. (Product plug: it just so happens that halftime and final buzzer are two moments that will trigger digital ads with 4C’s Sport Sync solution.)
Surprisingly, the theme of unsavory fouls during the NBA playoffs continued in Game 1 of The Final. Dellavedova fouling Iguodala in the groin turned out to be another key moment and the event that received the most TV rebroadcasts. The moment also drove an increase in social media engagements. (Plug #2: flagrant fouls are another 4C Sport Sync trigger.)
The Finals TV advertisers also saw a strong social response. Automotive was the top advertised category with Nissan purchasing the most TV ad time at 2 minutes. Ford, Kia, and Toyota each advertised for 1.5 minutes. Ford achieved the highest social media engagements and social index amongst its counterparts.
Taco Bell rounded out the top 5 advertisers with 3 spots for 1 minute. Though it had the fewest social engagements of the leading advertisers, it achieved a strong connection with the NBA Finals audience, recording the second-highest social index.
Beyond being a game-changing year because of the Warriors, this year has been transformational for NBA sponsors as well. The NBA announced it will be allowing jersey sponsors beginning in the 2017-2018 season providing brands a new way to impact professional basketball audiences. Social data can provide excellent insight into which teams and athletes a brand’s consumers care about. If the past two seasons are any indication, the Warriors and Cavaliers will both be prime placements.
For the Cavaliers, BBVA Compass, Focus Features, Nike, Coors Light, and KeyBank are all good fits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 4C proprietary affinities demonstrates Under Armour would be a good jersey sponsor for Golden State. However, there are several unexpected brands that would suit the Warriors as well including YETI, Gatorade, Beats by Dre, and State Farm.
Just like the game of basketball, the nature of sponsorships and media is transforming. While TV continues to be impactful, it’s important for brands to leverage the full capabilities of multi-screen insights to understand their consumers and value of their media. Like Golden State and Steph Curry, the only way to shatter records, is to change the game.
Check back when a champion is crowned to see the full impact of the NBA Finals.