Holiday games serve multiple purposes for leagues and sponsors

Holiday season during the winter usually means time with the family, gorging yourself on meats, sides, and desserts, and ultimately watching sports on your couch. For Thanksgiving, the NFL is the sport of choice, while the NBA has seized Christmas. In the lead-up and through New Years, college football and the NHL have been able to corner the market of the holiday spirit as well.

Capitalizing on viewing windows where people are most likely to be gathered around the television and not off working or away from home isn’t exactly genius strategy. However, it’s not foolproof either. As CNN money reported on this year’s Thanksgiving NFL games, providing fans with compelling content is the best way to maximize viewership from the available audience.

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)
(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

In the case of the the NBA and its upcoming Christmas day schedule, that means highlighting some of the league’s biggest stars and largest markets. Per usual, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles will have teams represented. The league’s top stars, including LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook will be omnipresent throughout the day too.

With the day consistently bringing in some of the highest ratings of the season, it’s also a prime day for league sponsors and player endorsers to highlight their products and association with the NBA. In fact, SportsBusinessDaily reports that the league’s official headphone sponsor, Harman, plans on launching a new campaign featuring Curry and Nike athletes, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James, will be wearing new colorways for their shoes.

These games provide the leagues and sponsors an opportunity to reach beyond the core fans that tune-in to the majority of regular season games. By gaining access to casual fans, that may not as reliably watch again until the playoffs start, if even then, it’s a chance to expand the pool of consumers through exposure to the best and most compelling teams and athletes the league has available. The hope is that a casual fan that tunes in for a Christmas day game may be exposed to something or someone they’d like to follow the rest of the season. For sponsors and advertisers, the goal is to capitalize on the brand strength of the star athletes.

Given the length of the NBA’s regular season, the Christmas day games serve as an early peak opportunity to set the stage for the remainder of the season up until the playoffs. Accordingly, the league and its partners continue to strategically plan ways to most efficiently maximize the engagement of their captive audience each year.