- MGM Resorts International announced via a news release that it has become the first official gaming partner of the NBA and WNBA as part of a new multi-year partnership.
- The NBA and MGM will together create a series of integrations across the NBA's platforms, including a digital content series. MGM will be promoted on NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA app and on the league's social media channels.
- MGM will promote the NBA on its sports betting platforms and use official NBA and WNBA data and branding, non-exclusively, across its land-based and digital sports betting offerings.
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in May, it opened the doors for considerable changes to the business of sports, which are already being felt. MGM Resorts' partnership with the NBA is the first of its kind, according to The New York Times, and signals how more flexible sports gambling laws could impact marketing, opening up opportunities for new types of brand partnerships and integrations.
While few details were released about what the NBA's work with MGM will look like, planned offerings like the co-branded digital content series fall in line with the trend of sports fans appreciating access to special content outside of games like highlights, interviews and bloopers, namely through digital and mobile channels. The NBA has broadly been looking for ways to enhance the entertainment value of basketball outside of traditional TV.
League commissioner Adam Silver last September said that he wants NBA broadcasts to resemble live video streams on Amazon's Twitch, with integrated stats and online chatter. In March, the NBA tested a streaming service that allowed fans to watch the fourth quarter of live games for 99 cents. The league also offers other streaming options, including the season-long League Pass and NBA Digital subscriptions in partnership with Turner.
With the new deal, the NBA is attempting to be the first professional sports league to profit from the legalization of gambling on sports, which has been legal in Nevada for decades. New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi have legalized it since the court's decision, per the Times, and a ramp up in online sports betting is also on the horizon.
Many media companies expect legalized sports betting will help revitalize TV viewership of games and other coverage, which have declined in recent years, and, stemming from that, provide a boon to ad revenue. Experts also predict the changes could increase the value of leagues, teams, sports media and TV rights deals, and bring in increased ad spending from daily fantasy sports leagues.