NBA teams up with Samsung

The electronics giant snags courtside seats for its tablets and TV monitors with a three-year, $100 million deal.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 28, 2013 2:00PM

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyA Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Smartphone © Michael Sohn/APBy Ben Cohen and Jonathan Cheng, The Wall Street Journal

The National Basketball Association has signed a wide-ranging, $100 million deal with Samsung Electronics to bring the South Korean company's technology courtside at its games, according to people familiar with the matter, a strategic move for two organizations looking to expand their global reach.

As the NBA's official provider of tablets and televisions, Samsung will supply the courtside monitors that referees use to review close calls when the NBA begins its new season this week, moving Samsung into the valuable space so close to the action.

The three-year deal will instantly make Samsung one of the most visible companies during NBA games, while bringing the basketball league into closer partnership with the electronics giant, which is the world's largest seller of smartphones and flat-panel televisions.

The league is also expected to customize video content for Samsung devices, including televisions, where Samsung is trying to set itself apart from rivals by building an ecosystem of unique offerings.

The NBA previously had television and computer deals with Chinese appliance maker Haier Group and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

For Samsung, the tie-up is part of a larger effort to offer exclusive software and services to customers, rather than simply slick hardware, to generate buzz around their devices and to keep current users loyal. For the NBA, partnering with a company as dominant in smartphones and television as Samsung could give it an added boost.

This isn't the first time that Samsung has turned to the NBA to augment its cool factor.

Miami Heat forward Lebron James, one of the most marketable players in the NBA, endorsed Samsung's Galaxy Note II smartphone last season in a long-form commercial that garnered more than 40 millions views on YouTube. The advertisement shows the league's top player and two-time defending NBA champion playing with the Samsung device as he gets his hair cut and heads to a basketball game.

Earlier this year, the rapper and former Brooklyn Nets owner Jay Z announced his latest album in a three-minute Samsung commercial during an NBA Finals game in June. As part of the unusual deal, Samsung purchased one million copies of the album, "Magna Carta Holy Grail," and made it available free to users of the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4 and Note II smartphones.

The tie-up between Samsung and the NBA ends a busy off-season for the basketball league. In addition to the Samsung deal, the NBA in September signed a deal with Stats LLC to install its player-tracking technology in every NBA team's arena.

The moves come ahead of a change of leadership at the NBA. David Stern, who has served as commissioner since 1984, will retire in February and be succeeded by Adam Silver, currently the NBA's deputy commissioner.

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