The Houston Rockets, of US basketball’s NBA, have brought on board Credit Karma, a US-based personal finance company, as a sponsor in a multi-year deal that features jersey patch exposure.
The deal, announced yesterday and taking effect for the 2021-22 NBA campaign, entails the Credit Karma Money brand having logo space on the left shoulder of the team's jersey.
Credit Karma will also receive “a substantial in-arena and online presence” through the partnership, and the brand will become the presenting partner of the ‘First Shot’ pre-game feature, which takes place before each home game at the franchise’s Toyota Center in Houston.
The Klutch Sports Group was used by the Rockets as their sales agency to broker the deal, while Arent Fox served as Credit Karma’s outside counsel.
Gretchen Sheirr, the Rocket’s president of business, said: "With the prominence of the jersey patch, it was important for us to partner with a company like Credit Karma Money which has demonstrated a commitment towards enriching the lives of its members. We are excited to bring this partnership to life and to introduce the Credit Karma Money brand to our fans.”
Poulomi Damany, general manager of Credit Karma Money and Tax, added: “We're looking forward to being a part of this new era of the Houston Rockets, with a young crop of talent and the new Credit Karma Money brand—it's a perfect match.”
Other Rockets sponsors and partners include Toyota, AT&T, and the Southwest travel agency.
NBA teams have been able to sell jersey patch branding slots since 2018 when the league opened up that sector as an avenue for sponsorship income.
Credit Karma becomes the Rockets’ second-ever jersey patch sponsor, after mobile brand Rokit filled the space for the 2019-20 season. Last season, the rights went unsold.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors franchise have expanded their long-running partnership with Oracle, the US software giant, through the launch of a new high-performance facility within the team’s Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
The Oracle Performance Center, which the firm has called “the NBA’s most advanced training and recovery center”, will provide the Warriors with a home for their players to train and recover after games, and will be fully powered by Oracle’s technology.
Along with the naming rights deal for that training facility, the expanded partnership will include “joint technology development to enhance player optimisation, training and performance.”
The software giant is also launching exclusive related content in and around the 2021 NBA Draft, and is the presenting partner for the Warriors’ 2021 NBA Summer League team too.
The Warriors and Oracle have been partners for over 15 years, with the firm initially on board as the naming rights partner for the franchise’s previous home arena in Oakland.
Oracle’s chief marketing officer and executive vice-president, Ariel Kelman, said: “We love to partner on technology initiatives such as the Performance Center, and we look forward to working with the Warriors on all of the ways we can help power better player insights and performance, and give every possible competitive edge.”
Meanwhile, the NBA has entered into a multi-year partnership with iHeart Media, a leading US-based podcast publisher.
The partnership will result in the launch of over 20 podcasts, co-produced by the two organisations, which will be distributed widely by the iHeartPodcast network.
The first show is set to launch in the next few months.
The shows will take a wide variety of content from the NBA archives "to tell the backstories of some of the greatest moments in sports history,” the publisher has said.
They will also feature news, analysis and player punditry.
David Denenberg, senior vice-president of national and local network partnerships at the NBA, said: “We are excited to expand the league’s audio offerings to fans by teaming up with iHeartMedia. We look forward to reaching more fans with content about our teams, players and history through this partnership.”
In April, iHeart Media agreed a multi-year partnership with American football’s National Football League.
The publisher also agreed a deal in May to provide audio coverage of the 2021 season of the US’ National Women’s Soccer League.