On Sunday night, a crowd packed a 3,000-square meter room in the west part of São Paulo to watch the Golden State Warriors win over the Toronto Raptors in the best-of-seven series of the NBA Finals. Earlier, a dunking team showed off their skills in the court along with cheerleaders, mascots, and other typical attractions imported from the most important basketball league in the world.

The NBA House should host roughly 2,000 people per night until June 16, when Game 7 is scheduled. The initiative is one of the key actions to strengthen the Brazilian audience’s relationship with the brand and the NBA universe. And the strategy is succeeding so far.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are the second most strategic market for the league worldwide, only behind China,” says Arnon de Mello, NBA’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Latin America. He will go into this seven-year history—NBA launched its office in Brazil in 2012—at the </span><a href="https://www.futuro-rio.com/?coupon=Futuro_THEBRAZILIANREPORT"><b>.Futuro</b></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.futuro-rio.com/?coupon=Futuro_THEBRAZILIANREPORT"> conference</a>. As a partner of the innovation and technology summit scheduled from June 5 and 6 in Rio de Janeiro, </span><b>The Brazilian Report </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">has previously talked to some of the speakers who will discuss groundbreaking cases during the event.</span></p> <h2>The power of a live game</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For obvious reasons, <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast-brazil/2019/04/24/brazil-deal-china-relations/">China</a> is a key market for any giant brand in the world. The NBA is no exception. The surprise is that Brazil would have such importance for the world&#8217;s biggest basketball league. The NBA has established a major international presence with offices in 13 markets worldwide. “Our main challenge was to find out how to bring the league, the teams, and their players closer to the fans in Brazil and Latin America,” says Mr. Mello. Since 2012, he has led all of the league’s efforts in the region with marketing partnerships, events, television, digital media, and licensed merchandise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Mello points out that unlike Mexico, Brazil doesn&#8217;t host any NBA matches—the last time it did was in 2015—and is much farther from the U.S. territory. On the other hand, the country holds a valuable advantage which giants such as China can’t count on: the time zone. “A live game makes a huge difference,” Mr. Mello says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazil’s large territory is not an irrelevant asset either, as well as the Brazilian basketball tradition. Though the country has struggled recently in the Olympics and the FIBA World Cup, the sport carries a historical relevance to Brazil. Moreover, Novo Basquete Brasil—the national league—has been gathering thousands of fans across the country, driven by traditional clubs such as Flamengo and Franca. Both, by the way, are playing in the national finals, almost at the same time as the NBA&#8217;s.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This year, Bandeirantes TV has become the only rights holder to broadcast the Toronto v. Golden State matches. The deal ends a 19-year-old hiatus that has forced viewers to move to cable since 2000, when the channel stopped airing the NBA.“We know that there is a restrained demand. The cable audience is very restricted. This was our most important announcement this year,” states Mr. Mello.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The NBA has also brought to a broader audience to its first show completely produced outside the United States. “Freestyle” debuted on Twitter last year, but was also aired on Bandeirantes TV in May. It recaps the highlights of the matches, brings exclusive interviews and content on fashion, culture, and basketball, of course.    </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides the classic television experience and the success of NBA Houses, Mr. Mello also outlines the role developed by the league’s official app, Leaguepass. “It brings the fans courtside. They can experience live immersive virtual reality (VR) games all season long. Augmented reality (AR) is also available as they can access the games’ statistics and other information while the teams are playing,” says Mr. Mello.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last but not least, analog initiatives are also part of the NBA&#8217;s project for Brazil. The brand has recently opened a store in the city of Ribeirão Preto, in São Paulo state. “We know that commerce if moving quickly to the internet, but a regular store is also part of our marketing positioning, linked to the fashion and the lifestyle NBA promotes.”

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MoneyJun 03, 2019

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BY Maria Martha Bruno

Maria Martha is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has already collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others. She has also worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.