DALLAS – June 27, 2017 – According to a new report from the industry-leading MVPindex, the NBA once again ranks #1 in the use of social media across all major sports leagues, increasing the value of its collective social media footprint by 25 percent over last year. But this season’s big winners were the brands that partnered with the NBA and its players and teams.
During the 2016-2017 season, NBA social accounts collectively generated nearly $444 million of value for brands, up from $333 million last season. That’s a whopping 33 percent increase. By comparison, the NFL, which ranks #2 in the use of social media, generated $224 million on behalf of brands.
“This latest report proves what we’ve always known – social media is the future of fan engagement in sports and an essential part of any brand strategy or sponsorship – and I only see this growth trajectory continuing,” said Kyle Nelson, co-founder and CMO of MVPindex. “This should be a wake-up call to teams, players and brands across all of sports. If you don’t understand the power of social to drive tangible value and a dedicated strategy to make it happen, you are leaving money on the table.”
So which social media platforms generated the most value for brands in the NBA? Of the 35,000-plus branded posts, 50 percent were on Twitter, but those accounted for just 19 percent of the total value. By contrast, Instagram accounted for 18 percent of total branded posts yet generated a whopping 49 percent of the total value. In fact, 98 of the top 100 most valuable branded posts last season were on Instagram.
Top Players and Teams for the 2016-2017 Season
Stephen Curry became the top NBA player on social this season, surpassing LeBron James even though he has less than a third of the followers. Curry claimed the top spot by posting about his family and team while incorporating branded posts organically. For example, Curry’s generated $4.1 million in social media value for Coach Up, a venture-funded startup company that connects athletes with private coaches. Curry also had the top player activation with a charity. His partnership with Nothing but Nets – Curry donated three life-saving nets for each three-pointer he made to the charity – earned the non-profit $2.3 million in social value last season.
LeBron James came in at #2 overall and also was the top influencer for Nike, generating $15.8 million – over half of the value Nike earned for the season. The remaining players in the Top 10 all had significant relationships with brands: Dwyane Wade earning $9.2 million in value for Way of Wade; Russell Westbrook with $4.5 million for Jordan; Chris Paul with $1.5 million for State Farm; Carmelo Anthony with $697,000 for Nintendo; Jeremy Lin with $117K for Adidas; Damian Lillard with $5.4million for Adidas; and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, both for Nike, generating $3.1 million and $1.3 million for respectively.
Not surprisingly, Curry and Durant’s social media success also helped the Golden State Warriors take the #1 spot among NBA teams. In addition, brands like Bud Light focused on team-specific campaigns to generate social media value. The “Official Beer of the NBA” earned more than $21 million from its team activations, making it the top brand performer at the team level for both the NBA and the NFL. Rounding out the Top 10 NBA teams on social for the 2016-2017 season are the Los Angeles Lakers (2); Cleveland Cavaliers (3); Oklahoma City Thunder (4); Chicago Bulls (5); San Antonio Spurs (6); Miami Heat (7); New York Knicks (8); Boston Celtics (9); and Los Angeles Clippers (10).
Brands Find New Ways to Win on Social this Season
Kia Motors was the most activated NBA partner brand earning $50 million during the season. The company’s value was earned in large part to its naming rights deal for the NBA Awards, a first-ever show honoring the league’s top performers, hosted by Drake and airing on TNT (June 26, 2017).
Even though Adidas was the official uniform provider for the NBA, Nike was the top athletic apparel brand in social media earning $20 million in value while Adidas earned just over $9.3 million. Under Armour came in third at $2.3 million.
Similar to its activations with the NFL, Nike earned $11.6 million of its total value in the NBA through player activations and ambassador relationships. Spectrum, on the other hand, earned $10.3 million in value through venue naming and television broadcasting rights. Toyota earned $6.5 million, Oracle $5.1 million and Staples $4.1 million – all through their venue naming rights.
For this latest report, MVPindex, the de facto social media index and valuation platform for sports and entertainment, looked at the platforms and properties that delivered for the NBA. To determine the most valued teams, players, and brands on social media, MVPindex ranks them using a proprietary algorithm that evaluates all of their social activity throughout the past season and culminating with the NBA Finals. The ranking combines three separate scores: Reach (fans, followers, impressions), Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, favorites) and Conversation (positive/negative mentions).