Crypto deals led to record sponsorship revenue for the NBA, reaching $1.6 billion in the 2021-22 season, CNBC reported, citing research data from IEG, a sports partnerships consultancy firm.
Comparatively, the NBA collected between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion in sponsorships during the 2018-19 season and 2020-21 season, respectively.
However, the crypto category emerged as the winner of this season’s sponsorships. It’s the second most lucrative category after technology. The technology category contributed just over $170 million, while the crypto category put in roughly $150 million, according to IEG data.
IEG’s global managing director Peter Laatz reportedly said:
“The cryptocurrency category’s sponsorship sending spree is like nothing we have ever seen before,”
Crypto sponsorships include agreements like non-arena naming rights or displaying crypto company logos and names on players’ shirts.
Reportedly, NBA is expecting more than $200 million just from deals on players’ shirts.
The first crypto company to sponsor NBA was Coinbase, which was signed in October 2021. The $192 million worth of sponsorship had Coinbase leverage all NBA platforms, including WNBA and USA Basketball.
Brooklyn Nets also started a multi-year jersey partnership with the trading platform Webull, agreeing to receive $30 million per year. The details of the deal were not disclosed.
In December 2021, Golden State Warriors gave its international rights to FTX for $10 million. FTX logo will also appear on the team’s jerseys. However, Warriors renewed its deal with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten in early May 2022. Reportedly, the contract will annually bring $40 million to the Warriors.
Players strike individual deals with crypto companies as well. In December 2021, Kevin Durant agreed to promote Coinbase on all his major business platforms, while LeBron James partnered with Crypto.com in January 2022 to help elementary school students learn about blockchain.