Crypto industry firms spent a combined $130 million on NBA sponsorship deals this season, up from just $1.75 million the previous season.
Coinbase, FTX, Crypto.com, and Socios are among prominent sponsors of NBA teams or the league itself.
If you watched the first game of the 2022 NBA Finals on Thursday, then you likely spotted a few crypto industry company logos along the way — including Coinbase, Crypto.com, and FTX.
A newAxios Pro Media Deals report provides the numbers behind this season’s rise in the NBA’s crypto tie-ups, pointing to a more than 7,300% rise in crypto sponsorship spending over the previous season.
The report cites data from IEG showing that the NBA saw an increase in crypto company sponsorship dollars from just $1.75 million in the 2020-21 season to $130 million this season. Five companies — Coinbase, FTX, Crypto.com, Webull, and fan token platform Socios — collectively account for 92% of crypto sponsorship dollars in the NBA.
All told, the NBA racked up $1.64 billion in sponsorship dollars this season, second in U.S. sports to the NFL’s $1.81 billion for its latest season.
Overall, the league saw a 12% increase in total sponsorship dollars over the previous season, up from 5% each of the last few years, per the report. Crypto industry sponsors now make up the second-largest category for the pro basketball league, behind technology firms.
In a statement, IEG Global Managing Director Peter Laatz said the surge in the NBA’s crypto sponsorship revenue is “like nothing we have ever seen before,” noting that it now represents one-third of the league’s new deals.
Last October, Coinbase announced a wide-ranging, multi-year sponsorship deal with the NBA, the WNBA, the developmental G League, the NBA 2K League esports initiative, and USA Basketball. The crypto exchange is also partnered with Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant, an early investor in the firm.
Crypto.com owns naming rights to the Los Angeles Lakers’ arena, sponsors the Philadelphia 76ers, and has deals with players LeBron James and Joel Embiid. The firm is also sponsoring broadcast segments during the NBA Finals.
FTX, meanwhile, has naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena, sponsors the Washington Wizards, and the Golden State Warriorswho are playing in the Finals against the Boston Celtics.It has also partnered with Warriors star Stephen Curry, himself an NFT collector and creator.
Crypto and financial services firm Webull is paying $30 million per year to sponsor the Nets, while Socios has marketing and fan engagement deals with 28 of the NBA’s 30 total teams.
The NBA has also made moves in the NFT collectibles space, as well. Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot was instrumental in bringing NFTs into the mainstream early last year, and has racked up more than $1 billion in trading volume to date. The league also recently launched The Association, a separate Ethereum-based NFT collection.
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