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YouTube TV Lands NBA Finals Sponsorship, Building on Sports-Marketing Strategy

Google’s YouTube is boxing out over-the-top TV rivals with yet another promotional sports pact: YouTube TV will be the first-ever presenting sponsor for the NBA Finals.

Under the multiyear deal with the National Basketball League, YouTube TV also will be the presenting partner of finals for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the NBA G League, the NBA’s official minor league. The parties aren’t disclosing the length of the deal but it runs through at least 2019.

The move comes after Google has inked several sports partnerships for YouTube TV in recent months, showing that it believes tying the “virtual” pay-TV brand to live sports has been an effective customer-acquisition tool.

Earlier this month, YouTube renewed and extended its marketing deal with Major League Baseball, which includes YouTube TV’s return as presenting sponsor of the World Series for 2018 and 2019. It also struck exclusive streaming deals for YouTube TV with two Major League Soccer teams, Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders FC.

Under the NBA deal, a logo with “Presented by YouTube TV” will be featured prominently during all NBA Finals games, including on the court and in-arena. In addition, YouTube TV will be featured in ABC ad spots and in-game callouts. YouTube TV branding also will be featured across the NBA’s digital and social-media channels.

Earlier this month, YouTube TV added NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour network, as part of the base package (which increased for new subscribers from $35 to $40 per month as of March 13). NBA League Pass, the league’s out-of-market live game subscription service, will be available for YouTube TV members for an add-on option.

“The NBA Finals on ABC, as well as the WNBA Finals and NBA G League Finals, are pinnacle events, and with YouTube TV we are excited to provide fans with new ways to experience the excitement of these championship series,” said Dan Rossomondo, NBA’s SVP of global media and business development.

The 2018 NBA Finals will be broadcast live on ABC starting Thursday, May 31. During The Finals, most — but not all — Americans will be able to watch ABC through YouTube TV, which is now available in nearly 100 of the top markets (spanning more than 85% of U.S. households).

“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,” said Wendell Scott, ESPN’s SVP of multimedia sales.

The NBA was the first pro sports league to partner with YouTube with the launch of its own channel way back in November 2005. To date, the NBA’s YouTube channel has generated more than 4.6 billion views.

YouTube TV competes with other OTT live TV services, including Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu’s live TV bundle, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and Fubo TV. Launched in April 2017, YouTube TV now offers more than 50 networks and features a cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage (programs are available for nine months).

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