How Warner Bros. Discovery Sold Out NBA All-Star Weekend in 'Best Year Ever'

More than 20 new advertisers signed on for the game

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In addition to LeBron James recently becoming the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer—live on TNT—Warner Bros. Discovery has another reason to celebrate.

As the NBA’s top stars head to Salt Lake City this weekend in Turner Sports’ first year under the combined WarnerMedia and Discovery umbrella, the company has sold out its advertising inventory for the 2023 All-Star Game.

“We’re sold out, and we had the best year we’ve ever had,” said Jon Diament, evp of advertising sales at Warner Bros. Discovery, noting there’s a “bunch of reasons” behind the record-breaking year.

Warner Bros. Discovery officially sold out the weekend about two weeks ago and saw a “flurry” of activity right before the Super Bowl.

“This year, the All-Star game falls only a few days after the Super Bowl, so you get a lot of advertisers that spent a lot of money creating commercials that potentially work well for them, and they want to continue their run of that creative,” said Diament.

A Super Bowl spot could cost north of $7 million for 30 seconds in 2023, but WBD declined to disclose the sticker tag for the All-Star Game.

Getting in the game

Warner Bros. Discovery saw 23 new advertisers sign on for this year’s All-Star Game, and the strongest categories include alcohol, telco, movie studios, auto and insurance.

Additionally, 30 advertisers “dramatically” increased spend for the 2023 weekend, according to Diament.

Though most categories remained strong, crypto was the “one big category that’s hurting.” Gaming remained popular, and travel has come back.

While many advertisers in the All-Star game spend with WBD and the NBA all year, the weekend serves as a jumping-off point for the second quarter, leading into NBA and NHL playoffs as well as March Madness.

“It’s our sweet spot for Warner Bros. Discovery sports. Then we really become a must-buy if you’re an advertiser trying to reach scale in sports,” Diament said. “People are gravitating toward big events, and this is certainly one of them.”

A host of sponsors

Alongside a strong slate of advertisers, the NBA and Warner Bros. Discovery attracted more than 15 sponsors for the event.

Kia is the presenting sponsor for the All-Star game itself, as well as the All-Stars Skills Challenge, NBA on TNT Postgame and Inside the NBA. In addition, CarMax will sponsor a 90-minute tip-off show.

TNT and TBS will simulcast the first All-Star draft, presented by Jordan Brand, live before the game, with the first 30 minutes of the draft also simulcast on Bleacher Report. The brand is also the sponsor of Jordan Rising Stars, a showcase of four teams made up of the NBA’s and G League’s best young talent, and the Cartoon Network Special Edition of the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest.

AT&T is presenting the regular Slam Dunk contest.

Tip-off time

The 2023 All-Star game tips off on TNT on Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m., TNT’s 21st consecutive year airing the event. Candace Parker will make her All-Star Game commenting debut, becoming the first woman to call the action.

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Draymond Green will be over on TBS for an alternate telecast, which WBD sees as an opportunity to bring in additional viewers.

“It’s incremental reach for the networks. It doesn’t cannibalize viewership,” said Diament.

And it’s a boon for advertisers, too, as viewers will see the same ads on both TBS and TNT.