The Emirates Group is said to be in talks to sponsor jersey patches for a few National Basketball Association teams.
Emirates declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.
The National Basketball Association (NBA), which has 30 teams, is among the four major sports leagues in the United States, along with National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League.
Jersey sponsorships for NBA teams started in April when StubHub, an online ticket sales portal for sports and live entertainment, struck a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The sponsorship is scheduled to start in the 2017-2018 season and is on trial for three years. It could fetch the NBA US$100 million a year.
The global sponsorship value for various sports events is expected to touch $46.5 billion this year, as it is an Olympic year, said Frank Saez, the managing director of SMG Insight, the sports arm of the research company YouGov.
Last year, the global sponsorship value for various sports events was $45.3bn, slightly down from $45.6bn in 2014, which was a Fifa World Cup year, according to SMG Insight.
Economic slowdown and low prices are not expected to have an impact “because the deals are long term”, he said. Moreover, “the total viewership is increasing and the broadcast landscape to reach viewers is changing and more competitive because of new entrants such as Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms”, he said.
“The ability for sports to deliver in viewership terms continues and that is a key [driver].”
The reported talks between Emirates and the NBA come comes after the Arabian Gulf’s three big airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – were involved in a war of words with the US legacy carriers – American, United and Delta Air Lines – on whether the Gulf carriers were competing unfairly.
Emirates had reiterated that the dispute will not slow down its expansion in North America. It flies to 10 US cities, including to the theme park destination Orlando, to where it started services last September.
Dnata, the ground handling and travel services unit of Emirates, is now present at 20 airports in the US, up from one at the end of 2014-2015 financial year.
Emirates sponsors teams at the European club football level, including AC Milan, Real Madrid, SL Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal, besides lending its name to various rugby, cricket, tennis, motorsports, golf, horse racing and Australian rules football events and teams.
Originally Published on The National.