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Supporting international sponsorship growth with fan and market insight

Posted on December 10, 2020 By Sam Yardley


Historically, sports properties have built businesses by commercializing sports fans in their local markets. However, with globalization and digital media enabling properties to grow – and easily reach – audiences on all four corners of the earth, there is an enormous opportunity to grow greater revenue from international fanbases.


In spring 2019, the NBA – the most watched sports league in the world – introduced the International Team Marketing Program, allowing teams to sell marketing partnerships outside of their DMA (designated market area) for the first time, presenting a significant commercial opportunity.


Through a deep and data-driven understanding of the fanbases for basketball, the NBA and individual NBA teams globally, there would be a better understanding of how potential sponsors could engage with fans outside North America, and how teams could articulate brand fit. This would allow them to fully maximize the opportunity presented by the International Team Marketing Program.


Two Circles partnered with 15 of the league’s 30 teams– including the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Orlando Magic – to develop a deep understanding of the global basketball, NBA, and individual team fanbases.

The project began with primary market research of fans in key international markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America. This was combined with a proprietary market-sizing analysis, individual team brand strength assessment, and evaluation of fan attitudes and behaviors to produce a comprehensive international audience analysis to support sponsorship planning.
Key data analysis included:

  • The maturity of the basketball market in each country based on the level of team awareness, knowledge, and fandom
  • The primary drivers – or inhibitors – of team fandom internationally, and how they vary from market to market
  • The overall size of the NBA and each team’s fanbase in each market, and how that compares to other domestic and international leagues and teams
  • Existing sponsor awareness and recognition by market
  • International fan interest in potential sponsorship activations for individual teams.


“We recognize there is a huge opportunity to leverage the Knicks brand worldwide, and Two Circles played an important role in our understanding of how to approach that opportunity.”

Branden Templeton
VP Marketing Partnerships at Madison Square Garden

“The interest in sponsorship from outside Dallas has been strong, and Two Circles have been able to help us demonstrate to those companies the huge following of the NBA and the Mavericks around the world.”

Ryan Mackey
SVP Corporate Partnerships at Dallas Mavericks

“Two Circles’ audience data is playing a central role in our outreach as we continue to explore partnership opportunities in markets outside North America. We’re really excited about the opportunities ahead of us, thanks in part to this work.”

JT McWalters
VP Global Partnerships at Orlando Magic


priority international market where custom research was conducted


of the league’s teams were delivered bespoke data, insight and consultancy for sponsorship targeting, sales and activation planning

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