YouTube TV didn’t even exist a year ago. But just 11 months since its April launch, the live TV streaming service has already secured deals to become the first presenting partner of half of the country’s four biggest professional sports leagues.
The live TV streaming service announced today that it will “present” this year’s NBA Finals, which begin May 31 on ABC. As part of its multi-year deal with the National Basketball Association, the brand will also present the finals for the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) and the NBA G League, the NBA’s minor league.
Last fall, the live TV streaming service became the first brand to “present” the World Series last fall in a partnership that sparked controversy but also resulted in big sign-up increases and brand awareness lifts for the company. YouTube TV doubled down on the deal earlier this month, signing an expanded MLB partnership under which it will remain the World Series’ presenting sponsor for the next two years.
As part of its NBA deal, “The Finals presented by YouTube TV” logo will have prominent placement during all Finals games, appearing on the basketball court and throughout the arena. The YouTube TV brand will also be showcased in ABC ads during in-game mentions and will appear in the NBA’s digital and social media platforms.
“YouTube TV was built for fans, and we are excited to bring to life our cable-free live TV service during one of the most watched sports events of the year,” said Angela Courtin, global head of YouTube TV and originals marketing, in a statement.
Wendell Scott, evp, multimedia sales, ESPN, added in a statement: “YouTube TV is a next-generation partner for an ascendant league, and we look forward to working with them to maximize the impact of their investment across ABC and the ESPN platform.”
Earlier this month, YouTube TV added NBA TV to its base package; the streaming service said it will offer NBA League Pass, which gives users access to out-of-market live games, for an extra fee in the coming months.
Courtin told Adweek in November that the fledgling streaming service had targeted live sports as an ideal area to drive home its message that the brand is the same as cable TV, “just delivered in a new way.” The company’s research had indicated that major live sporting events like the World Series would offer the ideal platform to do that.
“Just like in [linear TV], where watch time for live sports is always significantly higher, we see the same thing happening at YouTube TV. So we know that sports was a place that we wanted to double down,” Courtin said.
Since then, YouTube TV has continued to partner with sports leagues to drive that message home. In January, the company made a deal with new Major League Soccer team Los Angeles Football Club to sponsor the team’s soccer jersey and get exclusive rights to games. A month later, it aligned with another MLS team, the Seattle Sounders, for exclusive streaming rights to games.
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