Photo – @James_Ham – CowbellKingdom.com
Rookie NBA owner Vivek Ranadive made a name for himself by revolutionizing Wall Street in the 1980s. After his Kings announced their first ever international corporate sponsorship for the Sacramento Kings, Ranadive is well on his way to similar transcendence in the NBA, or as he likes to call it: NBA 3.0.
Last week, the Kings announced a partnership with Indian development company The Krrish Group, who recently finalized a multi-franchise agreement to operate Sacramento-native restaurant chain Jimboy’s Tacos in India. Their sponsorship deal with the Kings will include Jimboy’s promotions during game broadcasts, inside Sleep Train Arena and on all digital platforms.
Ranadive, the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA franchise, is convinced the greatest growth opportunities for the NBA brand lie abroad, particularly in India.
This partnership is indicative of his success in bringing globally minded companies into the NBA sponsorship fold.
Ranadive’s efforts to increase the Kings’ presence in India include multiple games broadcast in the country, as well as a Hindi-language version of the team’s website. Deals such as the one with The Krrish Group can only expedite the growth of the Kings as an international brand.
Although this partnership is the first for the Kings with a company based outside the country, it is certainly not the last. The Indian consumer market has experienced dramatic growth in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue.
“India is fertile ground,” says Sam Amick, who covers the NBA for USA Today. “A big part of what [Ranadive] wants to do fits the NBA’s agenda. It fits what they want to do.”
Ranadive and his team, one that includes future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, plan to use technology and data to construct a winning product on the court and to establish the Kings as a prominent global brand. His ambition is to make basketball the premiere international sport of the 21st century. Technology, according to Ranadive, will drive the success of the NBA abroad. He plans to expand social networks, giving fans an opportunity to participate and identify with sports in ways that have not been done before.
He calls this philosophy NBA 3.0, a complete alteration of the fan experience, particularly in the developing world.
“When I look at the business of basketball, it’s more than basketball,” he says. “It’s really a social network. You can use technology to capture that network, expand it, engage it, and then, obviously, to monetize it.”
Look for other franchises to adopt similar methods of targeting around the world, presenting sponsorship opportunities for international companies in American professional sports that were never before viable.
Professional teams and leagues are always searching for new revenue streams. Ranadive hopes to set the precedent for establishing relationships with consumers on a global scale. Should the NBA 3.0 system of fan interaction succeed, it will serve as the model for breaking into emerging markets such as China and India.
In order to connect with international fans, teams will seek partnerships with international companies to bridge the cultural gap. The Krrish Group aims to be the first of many to align with the international growth of American professional sports. In the coming years, similar corporate sponsorships from companies in emerging markets will prove the catalyst to booming global fandom for progressive franchises like the Sacramento Kings.