- The NBA struck a deal with AT&T to be the league's official wireless sponsor, according to an AT&T news post. The multiyear partnership will create new experiences for fans across the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball.
- The partnership kicks off during the upcoming NBA All-Star 2019 events, where the communications and technology company will sponsor AT&T Slam Dunk and be the presenting partner of NBA All-Star Practice and Media Day. AT&T will also create experiences during NBA All-Star games in Charlotte, including in arenas and at the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and NBA Crossover events.
- NBA and AT&T will create events, community opportunities and technology innovations for fans, including next-generation content experiences like 4K, virtual reality, mixed reality and other immersive technology. AT&T will be integrated into NBA assets, including NBA.com, the NBA app and national broadcast partners ABC, ESPN and TNT.
While the NBA tapped AT&T as its new official wireless sponsor, the league is continuing its partnership with Verizon, though not in official sponsor capacity, according to AdAge. The news comes as the two wireless carriers are vying for dominance in the fifth generation of mobile technology, or 5G, space. Charlotte, North Carolina, which is hosting the NBA All-Star events, is one of a few U.S. cities where AT&T has launched 5G technology, and it's likely that AT&T will leverage its new NBA partnership to promote its offerings and get a leg up on its competitors.
Professional sports leagues, including the NBA, are looking for new, innovative ways to connect with fans through memorable experiences, especially as the number of cord cutters continues to rise and TV broadcasts of games are seeing shrinking audiences. Teaming up with AT&T could help the league provide more innovative, tech-focused experiences, like VR and other immersive experiences. The NBA is continuing its multiyear deal with Verizon focusing on digital video content, including shows like "The Bounce," a joint effort with the NBA, Turner and Yahoo Sports. Verizon also retains rights to sell subscriptions to the NBA League Pass, according to AdAge.
This season, the NBA also partnered with The Players' Tribune and Amazon Prime Video on a co-branded series to promote the Amazon show "Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan." The series, "Unexpected Heroes," focuses on the mothers of NBA players who overcame obstacles to make their sons a success and was streamed on Prime Video, TPT and social media.