Thoughts on the NBA and NHL Finals

nba_finals_logoHere are three quick thoughts on sports business storylines for the 2009 NBA Finals.

  • What happens to the Kobe/LeBron ads?  Whether it’s Vitamin Water, Nike or the NBA itself, there was a lot of hype focused on Kobe vs. LeBron.  Now that the Magic have eliminated the Cavaliers, will these ads disappear?  Maybe Nike can add a puppet for Dwight Howard, since those commercials had done so well.
  • Speaking of Mr. Howard, how will he be used in the NBA’s marketing efforts, or in the marketing from league partners?  Off the top of my head, I’ve only seen him in the T-Mobile ads where he plays second fiddle to Wade and Barkley.  Howard is a funny, charismatic athlete and should be easy to promote.  When I asked people on Twitter what stories they were following, this was definitely the most common response.
  • The ratings for both conference finals were excellent, but will any disappointment about the match-up impact the rating for the finals?  I think there will be a small hit, but they still have the power of the L.A. market.  I think one early win from the Magic would reassure people that it will be a good series and keep the viewers tuned in

2009-nhl-playoffs-300x260And of course, I cannot forget the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, even if I’m two games late!

  • How will the declining auto industry and specifically the recent bankruptcy filing by GM affect ticket sales for the games in Detroit.  The Red Wings do a great job drawing fans in, especially in the playoffs, but the fans still need money to buy the tickets.
  • Is the rematch from last year’s finals a good thing or a bad thing for the league? Since we’re two games in, we already know some of this answer.  The ratings are upfrom games 1 and 2 last year (which were on Versus) and from NBC’s first two games last year (games 3 and 4).  I would think the league is happy to see the Penguins come out of the East, but it might have been a great opportunity to strengthen the NHL’s presence in Chicago (top 5 media market) if they had advanced over Detroit.
  • Does the NHL need to worry about over-marketing Crosby?  Clearly he’s one of the most talented players in the game (arguably #1), but his team is already down 2-0.  Is there a risk to pushing Crosby if his team fails to win again this year?  Maybe there is too much pressure on him to succeed.

Finally, here are the results of the poll that I’ve been running the past two weeks:

Which league playoffs are you following more closely?

  • NBA (55%, 47 Votes)
  • NHL (45%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 86

While more readers said they were paying closer attention to the NBA playoffs, the numbers are pretty close!  

So what other stories are you following?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

UPDATE:  Well, it didn’t take Vitamin Water long to get their Dwight Howard ad together! Check out this post from Darren Rovell of CNBC, complete with the commercial video clip.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on the NBA and NHL Finals

  • June 2, 2009 at 10:26 am
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    Unfortunately, there can’t be a Dwight Howard puppet – he’s Adidas.

    And if he has a good finals (let alone a great one) – I can imagine that he’d have a shot at any marketing deal he wants.

  • June 2, 2009 at 10:40 am
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    I don’t see much risk in the NHL marketing Crosby. These ideas may tie back to Michael Jordan who was not only marketed 8 ways from Sunday but also a champion year after year…

    I think winning a title only adds some icing to the cake.

  • June 4, 2009 at 12:24 am
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    I think the too much in your face of Crosby is driving hard core hockey fans nuts. I think they need to pick more than one player as the face of the organization.

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