Maximizing Revenue: Creativity, Collaboration, and Analytics in Courtside Signage

  • Divide and Conquer: By splitting its courtside signage into three sections this season, the Phoenix Suns have increased exposure for these sponsors by 40%.

How a simple reconfiguration of signage brings fans closer to the court at the same time increasing brand exposure, resulting in improved ticket and sponsorship revenues.

By Scott Horowitz, VP, Development, Repucom

During the past few NBA seasons, Repucom, the global leader in sports marketing research, has seen an increase in teams requesting research and integrating a broader range of data into their business decision making processes. Data had previously focused on CRM information for customer demographics and behaviors, but recently, teams have taken a more sophisticated approach to maximizing revenue on both the ticketing and sponsorship sides of the business. 

Repucom currently works with more than 25 NBA franchises and the league office. For more than ten years, Repucom’s services have helped franchises develop a deeper understanding of the exposure/value their sponsors receive, as well as develop a more nuanced view of their actual fan base. Beginning in 2012-13, teams approached Repucom for assistance in maximizing both sponsor exposure and ticket revenue through modifications to courtside rotational signage layouts.

One Signage Location Becomes Three

The Cleveland Cavaliers was the first team to approach this reconfiguration opportunity head-on. The Cavaliers implemented a new courtside rotational model that included three different locations prior to the 2012-13 season and utilized Repucom to measure and determine the effects of those changes. Although there was no change to the size of the amount of signage on the courtside rotational, the Cavaliers’ 8-foot-24-foot-8-foot signage layout moved more fans closer to center court, resulting in a 77% increase in duration or actual seconds of brand exposure on screen.

Nic Barlage, now the Chief Sales Officer of the Phoenix Suns, was with the Cavaliers while these changes were implemented. Barlage comments, “The Cavaliers SVP/CRO Brad Sims deserves all of the credit for this move. It created a better experience for all of our Hollywood Seat Holders because it moved them closer to center court and away from where the coaches normally stand in game. This enhanced seating experience, coupled with the opportunity to increase the rate card on the partnership opportunities due to the increased exposure of signage in the half court set (77% increase in media exposure) makes the decision a simple one to make for any team considering it.”   

Analytics experts at Repucom studied how to better leverage the space for other teams, analyzing potential reconfigurations that would increase sponsor exposure while creating the opportunity to add seats. 

The first goal of reconfiguring the courtside rotational signage was to increase exposure for sponsors. With traditional courtside rotational signage ranging from 29-to-60-foot table configurations, sponsor logos were often cut off in broadcast based on current camera angles and positions, resulting in truncated messaging. These key branding elements were not being fully displayed, and logos were not visible on the broadcast; therefore, the scale of the TV audience was not fully leveraged.  

Repucom calculates logo exposure in sports broadcasts on a global basis using a proprietary technology which assigns value based on a number of factors, including duration on screen, clarity, quality, size, cost of media, and audience size. Many of today’s signage applications are not optimized for visibility either based on the layout of the signage and the camera angles used during the broadcast.  

The recommendation by Repucom for the teams analyzed was to split the larger tables into smaller sections, including placements in the front court on both ends of the court. The teams that made the changes received significant increases in TV exposure for their courtside rotational sponsors.

In the case of Cleveland, there was no loss in size of the courtside rotational signage; however, Cleveland was able to provide the most dramatic increase in sponsor value received from courtside signage. In the Phoenix example, the Suns only reduced the size of the signage slightly but increased exposure by more than 40% so far this season. 

Premium Ticket Revenue Increases 

Another area of opportunity for teams as a result of the reconfiguration was the ability to increase the capacity of courtside seating for fans. Decreasing the length of a team’s courtside rotational signage opened more room for additional premium seats and resultant ticketing revenue. For the teams that did not gain any additional space, they had the opportunity to move fans from the ends of the sideline to center court locations, which is a premium location previously available on only one side of the court.  

Teams with sell-out scenarios in their courtside locations are always looking for opportunities to increase revenue previously deemed as not available or sold through. Reconfiguring the courtside rotational also creates opportunity for changes in fan seating arrangement.   

Atlanta experienced the most dramatic uplift in seating revenue as a result of this reconfiguration. The Hawks reduced their courtside rotational setup by 20 feet and still increased sponsor exposure by more than 4%. While the configuration change did not result in dramatic exposure changes like in Cleveland, the ticketing opportunity was significant. 

The biggest benefit received from this change was in the amount of floor seats the Hawks were able to open up for sale. Atlanta increased the number of floor seats by ten for every game. This increase in premium inventory represents a significant opportunity for the ticket sales department to increase its revenue. 

The Hawks’ Chief Revenue Officer, Andrew Steinberg, explains, “In an effort to provide more exposure to corporate partners and increased ticket revenue, we reconfigured our courtside seating, adding ten ‘feet on the floor’ seats while rearranging the position of our courtside LED signage. The valuation analysis Repucom provided regarding the potential financial impact of the new configuration was a vital component of our internal analysis and subsequent decision to ultimately execute the strategy. Having an increased understanding regarding the true media value of the courtside inventory was invaluable in presenting the opportunity to current and prospective partners. The insights delivered by Repucom remain a consistent presence in our consulting process.” 

Repucom’s data and consulting capabilities cover a broad scope from high-level valuations and global research, to rebuilding a rights holder’s position in a venue using granular analysis. As a result of this courtside configuration analysis, Repucom clearly demonstrated the untapped potential for teams to increase ticketing revenue while increasing sponsorship exposure. 

Are you considering a signage reconfiguration?
Write to Scott at or call 203-975-9000. 

Repucom captures exposure in sports all around the world and is available to investigate reconfiguration opportunities for new teams. Once the courtside configuration is analyzed, Repucom can also assist in ticketing strategy and segmentation studies, equipping teams with the information they need to maximize revenue on both sides of the business.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2014 Spring Issue of SEAT Magazine. 

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