T-Mobile No Longer The Official Wireless Service Partner For The NBA

Sprint and the National Basketball Association announced a multi-year deal making Sprint the new official wireless service sponsor of the NBA. Sprint and the NBA didn’t disclose any terms of the deal though it’s rumored to be “in the millions.” Sprint will replace T-Mobile, who had been the leagues sponsor since 2005 until the end of last season.

A few of you have already emailed me and asked if this has anything to do with a potential AT&T deal, no matter how dead that deal may seem. My honest response is no, they have nothing to do with one another. Perhaps Sprint offered more money, or perhaps T-Mobile didn’t want to pony up the money to renew. There are any number of reasons that could have led T-Mobile and the NBA to part ways that have nothing to do with any potential AT&T deal.

C’est la vie


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  • Anonymous

    Not surprising

  • Matlcok

    hope that doesnt mean I wont be able to get NBA League Pass Mobile once the season starts! 

    • Littlesis1774

      If you are not on Sprint I think it means you won’t be getting the NBA league pass mobile if T-mobile was doing it

  • Anonymous

    Does this spell and end to the Charles Barkley T-mobile commercials?  Thank goodness if it does!  (although I did kinda enjoy the Charles Barklet rap commercial)

  • Scientific Jay

    All i can say is sprint is actually making good moves to come up in the industry. They got the iphone,unlimited data, customer service is getting better according to jd power. And T-mobile is making bad decisions and seems as if DT doesn’t even care. TMO is still in the Game just keep expanding that lovely 3G/4G gives us some more LTE advanced network speeds that yall working on. and Please just get the Iphone I dont even want it I love WP7 but just to keep people from leaving just to go to sprint for the iphone. and offer the same deals online as they do in the store. and start getting first dibs on the COOL phones like nexus s etc…… Cause the only reason why these other carriers are even in the game is phone selection. 

  • 12th-Year Magenta fan

    Well…Seems like the ship (T-Mobile) is sinking slowly. 

    No iphone…

    No Galaxy Nexus…

    No NBA…

    Yeah, guys I believe T-mobile is getting 1000 cuts and  bleeding slow. I am trying to hang in there but if there is not a line up of spectacular phones in the Spring. I am going to the dark side  (AT&T)…I totally hate to do it considering I have been with T-mobile since it was Aerial and Voicestream Communications.

    T-Mobile will be a fossil like PrimeCo. 

    • Littlesis1774

      T-mobile needs to get in a meeting with Apple get to iphone 5. I heard something iphone 5 is being tested to on 4g

  • Tito!

    C’est la vie, indeed. sad.

    really makes me want to jump to Verizon.. /:

    Magenta faithful, where art thou?
    I once pride myself in being magenta..
    now, ’tis dead. as is chivalry. :b

    that was cheesy.

    • Anonymous

      “really makes me want to jump to Verizon.”

      Not sponsoring sporting events makes you want to switch carriers?

      that was cheesy

  • Jaygqitalia

    Damn this sucks. That had ALOT of publicity being with the NBA. I always felt it made them seem like a legit big company on par with ATT and Verizon.

  • Youngt82

    Epic fail t-mobile smmfh so now sprint has nfl & nba??

    • Chris

      and NASCAR (The Sprint Cup Series)

    • SouthernBlackNerd

      I think verizon has the NFL, but they do have the NBA and Nascar. I also believe they have the MLB. MLB.com has them as an official partner.  I wonder if they are just going to take the NFL from verizon and dub themselves the Wireless Partner of Sports. 

    • Verizon sponsors nfl

  • Cashman

    There goes 60% of T-Mobile’s main advertising. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ll do when they’re not showing the D wade commercials

  • BP

    The AT&T deal had everything to do with T-Mobile not renewing this deal.  T-Mobile marketing has changed drastically since the deal was announced.  T-Mobile is about affordable phones now and it wouldn’t benefit them to be a partner with the NBA.

    • Gsm1900

      T-Mobile put a major plan in place in early 2011 to move to a more regional model for management. This included a GM for each geographical area, and a Marking Manager in each area with a regionalized marketing focus. They said at the time that they were going to move away from nationalized marketing campaigns, and focus marketing dollars on regional specific ones. All of this happened pre-merger.

      • BP

        AT&T was the piece of the puzzle to make everything T-Mobile had planned make sense.

  • hyperion

    Wow, just wow. What will CB and D Wade ever do now. Man this just hurts. j/k

  • Tunks101

    Tmobile is actually more profitable this year then last. As far as the phone selection comments. Tmobile has the best version of the galaxy s2 with a 1.5 GHz processor dual core. The nexus specs aren’t that great in comparison.

    • Brianzdman02

      Please tell me your joking. How does clock speed have anything to do with having the best version. Samsung’s processor is way better then the one that’s in the T-Mobile version. The Exynos processor is better for gaming and everything else. The only reason the T-Mobile version has that processor is for the download speed. The MSM7380 is capable of higher download and upload speeds and that’s it.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares about sprint, Sprint is leveraging their future right now w/ the all the money they’re spending to buy iphones for the next 4 years, changing their 4g plan to now have LTE; subsidizing all these handsets; sponsoring this and that costs money and to your bottom line.  Sprint is doing the American thing living WAY BEYOND THEIR MEANS and it’s going to hurt them. 

    I’m glad TMO decided to save some money and focus on the network and the customers w/ value plans and phones.  Isnt that what they’re in business to do?  Not be a cosponsor to some winston cup or NBA this NFL that.

    • Anonymous

      Sprint may be doing the American thing by living beyond their means but they have an ace up the hole that most American’s can no longer take advantage of; restructuring under chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.  All their debt miraculously disappears and a judge can void contracts.   The losers are those who loaned them money.  Yet another brilliant way for corporations to spend themselves silly.

  • Anonymous

    It’s going to sound weird hearing “Welcome to the Sprint Half Time Report.”

    • guest

      That is what we’ve been hearing for the NFL for years…  How is that weird?

  • ogopogo

    Being the “official” service sponsor of anything is a bit ridiculous to begin with. When has anybody actually gone out and purchased a phone just because it was the “official” sponsor of a league or team? 

    • Jaygqitalia

      Probably because the 10000000 T-Mobile commercials during NBA games help get customers.

      • ogopogo

        You don’t need to be an official sponsor to run a commercial during a game. You just get the bragging rights of being “The Official Sponsor Of….”

        • Anonymous

          There’s also marketing material from NBA that has TMO listed on it.

          I think tmo were smart to back out of the deal (assuming they did here), I mean, who cares about the NBA any more? The NBA made it plainly clear they care only about our money, and not entertaining us, so yeah, why would TMO want to be associated with that?

  • Anonymous

    Sprint has been making the right moves lately.  Gets the iPhone, Switches to LTE, Upgrades their Network to save on roaming agreements and improve speeds/coverage, and Now NBA partner. I wish Tmobile was more like Sprint. 

    • Havoktek

      Ummm, no you don’t, People are we forgetting that this is a half assed NBA season, timing is everything when it comes to money and advertising….

      • Bluemoon737

        Sprint stays with/buys inot dying brands. The NBA is on the downslide and I doubt it will ever fully recover. Most teams in the NBA lose money, why do you think you have the musical chairs of where teams are from one season to the next…they can’t make money. Now throw in NASCAR which had it’s heyday a decade ago and has lost viewership every years since (and declining ticket sales).

        I’m glad TMO got out from this deal…the money can be MUCH better spent.

    • Gsm1900

      1. Gets the iPhone – After 2 other carriers were successful at it. Remember when Sprint’s CEO  said that the Palm Pre was going to sell better than the iPhone and would make people forget about it?
      2. Switches to LTE. Sprint bought into WiMax, which was the wrong move. Switching to LTE is an expensive “Shit we screwed up” necessity.
      3. Upgrades their network to save roaming agreements and improve speeds/coverage. Every single wireless carrier does this, every single day. It is important to note that they are upgrading their old 3G network for this, not their new LTE network. This is not a “new” thing that Sprint is doing, this is a industry norm.
      4. Now NBA partner. The NBA almost lost its season this years, and will likely have the least amount of rating of any NBA season in years. Sounds like a bonehead move.

      T-Mobile dropped the NBA as they shifted focus from a national advertising strategy to a more localized one, and hired Marketing managers in each of their areas.

      BTW, nice plug for Sprint. I really like how you capitalized the N in “Now” and “Network”, matching Spring’s trademark the “Now Network”. How long have you worked for Sprint?

  • BigMixxx

    It may have been t mobile not willing to pony up the cash. 

    NBA is hurting because of that miss in early advertisement and this may have been T mobile’s out.  It may just turn out to be a good thing for T mobile in the long run.  Short term costs — buy the advertising time, save some money.
    Not saying it’s T Mobile fault…but that contract has to be in the 100’s of millions…and if T mobile is about saving cash, let Sprint have that….They are over leveraged anyway.

    • Havoktek

      Agreed B, good observation….

    • ItsMichaelNotMike

      Well Big… while it is a large chunk of change, it is not that much in terms of what a national carrier could pay (TMOUS problem, like i said, is DT raiding TMOUS piggy bank.).

      • BigMixxx

        That makes sense….DT never mentioned in their last call EXACTLY how much TMOUS is making for them.

  • ItsMichaelNotMike

    Well I don’t think that this had anything to do with the AT&T acquisition.


    –There was uncertainity with the season being delayed.

    — This was the end of a three year extension that the parties had signed. So renewing or not doing a deal was up for discussion.

    — Arguably it was Sprint’s turn. First Verizon had the sponsorship, then T-Mobile in 2005, and now… well… it is Sprint.(I’m just kidding about this reason.)

    — Most important, I thought T-Mobile was going to cut back on national sponsorships and instead focus on regional events. That seems a sound strategy to me. It is more focused on target markets, you get top billing for dirt cheap prices, and overall it cost a hell of a lot less money. So nixing the always-expensive NBA sponsorship is not surprising.

    Just saying.

  • Anonymous

    So, you guys hate the celeb endorsements or but you hate it when T-Mobile drops a spendy sponsoring deal? WTF?

    They can put this money elsewhere, wherever it may need to be.

    On another note, Lindsay Lohan got the new White 9900, she had the white 9700 before (T-Mobile)

  • Littlesis1774

    Who sponsors NHL

  • NotThe1Percent

    NBA?  Who cares about it.  Sponsoring a growing U.S. sport like the MLS, or using a few million of the failed AT&T-TMO merger 3+ billion penalty to sponsor the NCAA football and/or basketball, that would be something!

    • Palmer

      LOL @ nobody cares about the NBA, but sponsor MLS. Wait, you are kidding, right?

      • Anonymous

        to be fair, the NBA just went through a process of showing their fans that they don’t care about them, they only care about their money. and they also showed they don’t care about any other people that work for the NBA. I mean, did the owners/players consider the ticket agents, or anything like that when they decided to fight over stupid amounts of money?

        F the NBA right in the buttocks. 

        Before the lockout it was a sham of a sport only 1 level above wrestling to begin with because of the shoddy officiating and with the amount of showboating by the players, now it’s that plus now there’s not a shadow of a doubt it’s filled with a bunch of whiny babies.

    • trife

      I like soccer too. But do you really think that teaming up with the MLS holds a candle to a partnership with the NBA?

      Good thing you’re not running the show at TMO.

      • Anonymous

        absolutely. huge untapped demographic of people love soccer.

      • jay_max

        MLS just passed NHL as the fourth-largest sports viewership in the United States, and is still growing.

        Here in Seattle, it is neck-and-neck with the NFL in terms of fan support.

    • jay_max

      Agreed.  The NBA business model is on the verge of failure.  I second the MLS idea!

  • Anonymous

    As a former manager for T-Mobile, I remember it was a HUGE deal when T-mobile outbid other carriers for the NBA sponsership. They got great publicity, especially with All Star weekend having T-Mobile plastered everywhere you went. Could be just a change in marketing strategies, or sprint could have stepped up with a better offer, but I have a hunch this isn’t something the T-Mobile brass takes lightly.

  • Afterburner87

    Every business has to weigh where to spend its advertising dollars. I think T-Mobile made a good decision here. The audience of the NBA may change slightly from year to year but not all that much. If they haven’t reached the consumer in the last 5 years they aren’t likely to this year. Changing the audience of your advertising dollar is a good move. I just hope that T-Mobile does indeed spend that advertising money somewhere else.What kills me about the people reading this site is they want T-Mobile to have the iPhone (sprint had to buy over 30 million of them even figure that out at $500 each thats a lot of money). Then they want them to sponsor the NBA, NASCAR and every other sport. Where does this money come from? T-Mobile doesn’t have that kind of cash and even if they did the rewards wouldn’t justify the expense.

     – Afterburner

  • This is an excellent marketing decision by T-Mobile.

    • ItsMichaelNotMike

      I agree. Besides, regional advertising (including sponsored events such as X Game competitions) is a better way to spend one’s marketing dollars.

      That said, I don’t know about giving T-Mobile too much credit. I suspect this is the result of Deutsche Telekom’s continual raiding TMOUS’ piggy bank. Plus NBA sponsorship was expensive, eating up a significant part of TMOUS’ marketing budget.

      TMOUS does not have the kind of money carriers such as AT&T have to throw around (just now AT&T made a $2 billion payment on a business transaction. It was a routine matter, a non-event if you will.  AT&T said it would be making the payment from one of its cash accounts.

    • Occupytruth

      Good if selling company…… Bad if keeping…..

      Anyway doesnt look like they are keeping it 

  • Bkidko

    NBA doesnt deserve a single viewer this season, so I am a little happy about this. Sprint sucks!!!! LTE is a long ways away for them and their first to 4g claim was a huge failure. How many cities do they actually have 4g in? Giant marketing lie!

    They are pretty close to the bottom and are spending a ton of money. I am shocjed that they are still in business after the nextel disaster. They throw money awau more than any company around and will soon run out.

  • It’s about time. They would have more luck with their localized campaign anyway. NBA marketing as a whole doesn’t seem like it ever accomplished much more than putting their name in the half time report, and on that annoyingly bright pink carpet up there.

    That thing would fit perfectly into a Pepto Bismol commerical.

  • Anonymous

    I have never worked for Sprint or any wireless provider. Second I said sprint multiple times in my post, but you are harping on me accidentally capitalizing the N in now and N in network as me giving them a plug? 

    Hesse has made some major mistakes, but LATELY they have been making the right moves. 
    1) You cannot deny adding the iphone was a smart move, and I remember reading that sprint accounted for 13% of iphone 4s sales. That seems pretty good to me, especially when you have been called the worse carrier for the iphone.
    2) you are right that is is an expensive necessity, but rolling out an LTE network as fast as they are is something to commend.  they will cover 250mil with LTE by the end of 2013, plus VoLTE and LTE-A in 2013. Tmobile does not even have an LTE plan.
    3) Name another national carrier rolling out with Multimode base station. I believe sprint is the only one. They are not making upgrades like other carriers, they are redesigning their network for the future. Every tower they have will be able to handle both technologies( CDMA/LTE) and Multiple Frequencies. They will also being decommissioning thousands of iDen towers to cut down on maintenance costs.
    4)  Maybe you are correct about the NBA season this year, but this is a multiyear deal.  They might not have the number this year, but they will probably bounce back next year.  NFL had a lockout, and I haven’t heard anything about their numbers. People will forget about this once the season starts.

  • TMoFan

    I really don’t think this was a good move. This sponsorship got T-Mobile a lot of exposure; how much more do they expect to gain by focusing on a regional strategy? Personally I never see T-Mobile advertise outside of the NBA and the occasional 3AM tv spot.

    I just hope they plan to redirect the cash they are saving from the sponsorship to other advertising opportunities.

    • Dfireballwow

      Really you never see advertisements out side of NBA OR 3 am TV spots? OKAY????

  • Guest

    For those of you posting that this is upsetting, perhaps you can find solace with NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol’s words in 2002, when the NBA rejected NBC’s four-year, $1.3 billion bid for broadcast rights, the NBA instead cutting a six-year, $4 billion deal with ABC, et al., the parties in 2007 extending the Agreement to 2016.

    Ebersol said: “The definition of winning has become distorted. If winning the rights to a property brings with it hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, what have you won? When faced with the prospect of heavy financial losses, we have consistently walked away and have done so again here. We wish the NBA all the best. We have really enjoyed working with them for more than a decade to build the NBA brand.”

    Although Ebersol’s words are inspirational (and applicable to TMOUS in 2011?), the depressing “rest of the story” is that after the NBA went to ABC, NBC dropped to fourth place in the primetime television rankings, for the first time in its history.

    Hmm… never mind.

  • Guest

    Double post. Sorry.

  • Purenupe1

    If they dont stop it with the mail in rebates and 2 year EIP contracts they will no longer be my official service provider

    • Aaron Tant

      as all major carriers do mail-in rebates… what other options would you go for?  As for the 2 year EIP contracts… what would you like to see?

  • jon

    I have never been a fan of the Chuck and D. Wade commercials anyways. The NBA glory days are long gone. This is the same league that marginalized Dirk (and still doesn’t give the man the respect and attention a champion deserves) and continues to push Labron James as some basketball god…let ESPN and now Sprint prop up this garbage league. I for one will stick to NFL, MLB, and NCAA Football. I have also thought tmobiles marketing has been pathetic over the years. About the only thing they seem to get right is the catchy youtube viral-type videos. So, I’m glad to see a shift in strategy here…

    • ItsMichaelNotMike

      Spot on Jon.

  • NotMe

    What makes you think TMO is going to get any of the $3 bil if the “deal” falls through? That money belongs to DT. Why would they share any of it?

  • Anonymous

    The NBA is one step above professional wrestling because of shoddy officiating that demonstrably effects the outcome of the game and showboating by the players.

    TMO is better off spending that money somewhere else.

  • Commander_fury

    Meh . I love the NBA so I was aware of the whole T-Mobile deal . That being said it was always strange to hear the announcer say what was coming up at T-Mobile halftime report then watch an AT&T or Verizon commercial till the report came on  .  Advertising dollars I’m sure could be better spent else where . If TMO is serious about bringing in customers its still going to come down to pricing and handsets . TMO and Sprint are handicapped by their inabilty to bundle other services with their wireless phone services .

    • ItsMichaelNotMike

      I have always found that odd, seeing “Sponsored by” followed with ads by competitors. (Although having no control if one participates in Google AdSense, that’s like a T-Mobile fan site showing display ads for MetroPCS, Verizon, or Sprint. :)

  • mrmiddl

    pulling out of that million dollar deal for iPhone money maybe?

  • ItsMichaelNotMike

    Here’s some info to feed your curiosity and stimulate further discussion Think of it as your getting 8 new letters in Scrabble. :)

    — Despite the formal announcement of the deal today, NBA/Sprint signed the deal in JULY 2011. 

    — The NBA up until June 2011 was in talks with AT&T for the sponsorship deal.

    — Other suitors were Sprint and MetroPCS.

    — MetroPCS was an aggressive bidder because of its interest in getting a national sport sponsorship deal. MetroPCS desperately wanted the prestige a national sports sponsorship brings. It could be looked at as a player in the national market and bring legitimacy to prepaid.

    — Sprint was a motivated bidder because it did not have a national sport sponsorship, having lost the NFL to Verizon Wireless after the 2009 season (ouch!).

    — To the NBA’s delight this was the perfect storm of bidding situations. To realize the best price the NBA could play the two off of each other. (As some have correctly alluded in here, despite interest AT&T and TMOUS were not going to play this game. And as I said before, in these hard times, the carrier price war, not being desperate, nor needing to make a deal (at any price) AT&T/TMOUS were not going to overpay for the NBA property.

    — The NBA successfully got the remaining players (MetroPCS and Sprint) into a bidding war. (If you ever shop on eBay you know how that can go.)

    — The bidding got out of hand and the NBA successfully played the two to where Sprint ended up paying about 20% more than what T-Mobile had been paying for the rights! Is it any wonder that AT&T and TMOUS got out of the bidding. (Please see my NBC Ebersol quote herein, insert TMOUS’ name for 2011.)

    — As to numbers, on the four-year Agreement Sprint paid $45 million for sponsorship rights and  $200 million in additional contractual rights, duties and obligations (media buys, etc.) — Insiders say that Sprint paid the largest fee ever collected by the league.

    — Note: Consider what TMOUS can do with $250 million on a regional marketing strategy, that is, instead of giving it to the NBA.