America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have forged a strategic marketing alliance to promote NBA.com, WNBA.com and America Online’s Internet service and Web sites.
The deal harnesses the resources of the Web’s largest Internet service provider and the one of the world’s best-known professional sports leagues. With more than 22 million members, AOL provides significant marketing muscle for promoting the NBA and its 29 teams as well as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), which began its fourth season in late May.
The alliance, which will include Internet and television marketing agreements, appears to be a product of the new relationship America Online has forged with Time Warner Inc. AOL is in the process of acquiring the entertainment and publishing powerhouse.
New Marketing Avenues for AOL
As part of the agreement, AOL will receive extensive promotion on the TBS and TNT cable channels, both owned by Time Warner, during their coverage of the NBA’s regular season and playoff games. AOL television commercials will also run during WNBA games, which are carried on NBC, ESPN and Lifetime.
America Online will gain access to NBA trademarks, player names and logos to use on its site and in its fantasy basketball section.
In addition, the NBA and the WNBA will produce nightly video highlight packages, provide digital photos and real-time game statistics for exclusive use on AOL’s sites. The leagues will also provide AOL with content from the NBA.com and the WNBA.com Web sites and will help develop co-branded links and banners.
AOL members will have the opportunity to purchase subscriptions to NBA.com’s Audio League Pass and WNBA.com’s Audio Season Pass, which offer live radio broadcasts of every NBA and WNBA game during a season.
NBA Reaching Out to Sports Fans
The NBA and WNBA will leverage their new relationship with AOL by promoting its content through AOL’s Internet properties, including AOL’s flagship Web site, CompuServe, Netscape, Digital City and the ICQ live chat network.
Information, highlights, and statistics from both leagues will be integrated directly into the various AOL channels that cover the NBA and WNBA, including “AOL Sports” and “Kids Only.”
NBA.com and WNBA.com will be allowed to use AOL’s technologies, including AOL’s Instant Messenger and AOL Search, within their own Web sites and may eventually offer online ticketing to AOL members.
As a result of the deal, the NBA and WNBA get exposure to more than 22 million AOL members, nearly 3 million CompuServe members and “tens of millions” of visitors to other AOL Web brands.
“We believe that the extensive integration of the NBA’s network of Web sites, which includes NBA.com, WNBA.com and the 45 NBA and WNBA team sites, with America Online’s multiple properties will dramatically increase visits to NBA.com and the wealth of information, goods and services, and community building activities presented there,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern.