The NBA is having an All-Star year heading into All-Star Weekend on TNT.
Advertising during what has become a four-day television extravaganza is about 90% sold out, according to David Levy, president of Turner Sales and Turner Sports.
Mr. Levy said the sellout level is about the same as last year at this time.
“We still have packages out there,” he said. “In general there are some economic conditions that no one is immune to, and as we move forward and we go into the second half of the year, we might see some challenges. But as far as the All-Star Game, we’re doing pretty good.”
With teams from big TV markets such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics winning, and basketball brand-builders LeBron James and Kobe Bryant scoring, the NBA is hot. Ratings are up 18% among adults 18 to 34 and 13% among adults 18 to 49, the second consecutive year of double-digit growth in the demographics.
“If you’ve got back-to-back years of double-digit growth, you’ve got a property that has buzz to it right now,” Mr. Levy said.
The ratings and the buzz help attract sponsors, particularly to big events like All-Star weekend.
NBA broadcasts attract young males, a hard-to-reach demographic that many advertisers crave.
Among Turner’s key sponsors are State Farm, which is the presenting sponsor for Saturday night; T-Mobile, sponsor of the Rookie Game; Hyundai, which sponsors Inside the NBA; and Autotrader.com, sponsor of the tipoff shows on Saturday and Sunday.
During Sunday’s All-Star Game telecast, McDonald’s sponsors the starting lineups, Gatorade sponsors “Around the Cooler” reports, Burger King presents the Shot of the Night and Turbo Tax brings fans “Money Shots.”
Many of Turner’s NBA sponsorships are locked in for the season, in deals signed when the economy was better (which should help Turner as the ad market deteriorates). It also helps lock in sponsors for the month of NBA Playoffs that Turner televises in May.
Last year, Turner made a deal to manage NBA TV for the league, as well as its digital properties.
“You’re going to see a whole different dimension now that we are managing these NBA digital properties around All-Star Weekend,” Mr. Levy said. “People are going to be able to touch and feel this thing in so many different ways than six or seven years ago, when we were running a television event.”
NBA TV will be showing 18 live hours of All-Star Weekend coverage. Events also will be piped through Yahoo and Facebook. The Slam-Dunk competition is being shown in high definition in movie theaters.
Mr. Levy said Turner also is trying to close a wireless deal.
Operating on many platforms is cost-efficient for Turner, he said.
“From a consumer standpoint, on the screen you won’t notice it. But behind the scenes, yes,” Mr. Levy said. “We’re going to be sharing producers and directors—less people are coming out to Phoenix. We’re able to use our talent across different networks, and so from behind the camera, there’s going to be a lot of coordination and less people. And we can get those economies of scale based on managing NBA.TV and NBA.com.”