- Horizon Sports & Experiences (HS&E), which launched under Horizon Media in November, has signed NBA Entertainment, the National Basketball Association’s marketing and production arm, as its first client, according to a press release.
- HS&E will support the NBA’s expansion into global markets and build fan experiences at prominent NBA events, including the NBA All-Star Game and season-opening games.
- HS&E will also help the league explore how to bring fans “closer to the game” via the metaverse, according to Advertising Age. The NBA experimented with the virtual world earlier this year, providing game experiences through Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
The new relationship with HS&E comes at an important time for the NBA, which is positioning itself as a global franchise amid the digital transformation of the viewing and marketing landscapes. In recent years, the league has built a strong presence on social media and has seen its popularity grow in international markets.
Consumers’ changing relationship with sports is at the forefront of HS&E’s work with NBA Entertainment, agency co-CEO David Levy told Advertising Age recently. The recently formed agency brings competencies in the metaverse, connected TV and data and analytics that could help the league meet its goals. This summer, HS&E parent company Horizon Media, one of the largest independent agencies, acquired First Tube, which has built digital experiences for brands like Michelob Ultra and Grubhub.
The agency also boasts a leadership that is familiar with the NBA as Levy is the former president of Turner, where he worked with the NBA as a broadcast partner for 35 years. HS&E’s other co-CEO is former Momentum Worldwide chief executive Chris Weil.
All of the major sports leagues are having to adjust as more viewers migrate online, a trend that is disrupting the traditional sports fan experience as well as how marketers reach sports audiences. One impact of this shift is more competition for attention, as online sports fans can find more options to suit their varied interests. Anheuser-Busch InBev, for example, recently acquired a Major League Pickleball team in a bid to capitalize on the sport’s growing popularity.
Some leagues are contracting with streaming companies as consumers turn toward CTV for their entertainment. Amazon Prime Video was the home of the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” this season, and Apple is set to launch its first Major League Soccer games — part of a 10-year deal — this February. Netflix is also reportedly considering bidding for sports streaming rights as well.
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