NBA’s All-Star Bounce

A powerhouse ad market and double-digit ratings gains primed the pump for a quick sellout of TNT’s 2011 NBA All-Star Game Weekend.

As evidenced by a swell of automotive, beer and movie dollars, demand for a piece of pro basketball’s annual celebration of itself was so great that Turner Sports has raked in an estimated $36.5 million in All-Star ad sales, a leap of 25 percent versus last year’s take.

“This is probably the strongest sports marketplace in history,” said Jon Diament, Turner Sports evp, ad sales and marketing, adding that NBA on TNT dollars are up 30 percent.

Tipping off Sunday, Feb. 20, TNT’s All-Star Game telecast will be presented by Kia Motors for the second year. Sibling auto nameplate Hyundai also reprises its 2010 positioning, repeating as the presenting sponsor of the postgame show. Other auto brands buying :30s during in-game coverage are Acura, Chrysler and Ford.

As expected, beer and spirits are well represented, with Anheuser-Busch InBev shooting it out with rival MillerCoors. London-based Diageo, producer of Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness, has also bought time in the telecast.

While sagging entertainment ratings and sports’ imperviousness to the DVR have marketers shifting dollars to live events, Diament said the power of the All-Star Game lies in
status and versatility.

“We don’t care if the money is falling out from somewhere else,” he added. “Along with all the star power, what makes the weekend so attractive is that it offers so many opportunities for us to create extra value for our clients.”

After a 10 percent drop last year, fans are expected to return in droves to the 2011 All-Star Game. Through 34 NBA telecasts, TNT is up 16 percent to  2.36 million viewers this season.