Headspace, the guided meditation app that has raised $75 million from investors, reached a partnership deal with the National Basketball Association that gives the league, its players and employees subscriptions to the service, The Wall Street Journal reported. In return, the NBA has agreed to produce guided training content with Headspace that will feature on its app and platforms.
As part of the multi-year deal, Headspace is providing about 7,000 annual subscriptions to its app, which normally cost $96 a year. Employees and players at the WNBA and the G League, the NBA's official minor-league organization, will also receive access.
Mobile users have downloaded the NBA App 42 million times, the league said, while Headspace said it has reached more than 25 million users in 190 countries. NBA and Headspace will share their jointly-produced content on the NBA's social media platforms, which the league reports have more than 1.4 billion likes and followers globally. No money changed hands as a result of the partnership, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.
The marketing partnership with the NBA is a coup for Headspace, which is in a crowded field of meditation apps that fill the app stores. Being associated with the NBA gives the company greater reach among the millions of professional basketball fans without spending a fortune on TV or some other mass-market campaign. Headspace's annual fee of $96 is comparably expensive compared to other digital subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Spotify. Users who are willing to pay that amount demonstrate a strong commitment to the idea that guided meditation can improve their mental, emotional and physical well-being.
The idea for the somewhat unusual partnership grew out of a meeting between Headspace's founder, the former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who were preparing for their season by meditating, according to the Journal. Headspace acquires between 75% and 80% of its users through word-of-mouth referrals, and the deal with the NBA is an attempt to take meditation out of the realm of chanting mantras and burning incense and into the familiar setting of a basketball court.
The profusion of meditation apps comes as mobile device makers are showing more awareness about health issues by adding features to their phones to help people keep track of their daily routines, such as counting steps or monitoring sleep patterns. Smartphones have been increasingly criticized for disrupting people's sleep patterns, causing neck and back pain, making people feel depressed or suicidal, interfering with personal relationships and spurring behavioral addictions. Perhaps a little meditation will help to push things in the other direction.