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Apple’s Beats by Dre signs new global partnership with NBA

Headphone brand Beats by Dre has signed a multi-year sponsorship and merchandise deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Founded by rap producer Dr Dre and acquired by Apple for $3bn in 2014, Beats will become the Official Headphone, Wireless Speaker and Audio Partner of the NBA, USA Basketball and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Beats takes over the category from rival Harman, which signed as the NBA’s Official Sound Partner in 2014.

The deal will allow Beats to activate during NBA marquee events, such as NBA All-Star matches, the NBA Draft, international NBA games in China and Europe, and USA Basketball men’s and women’s national team games.

In addition, Beats can strike deals with individual NBA franchises, allowing it to launch its own range of NBA team-branded headphones.

According to Ad Age, the deal also means that Beats can now market the brand in association with star players wearing their team uniforms (see final five seconds of launch video). Although Beats had individual marketing deals with players such as LeBron James, they could not market the products in their team colours.

This week, Beats also announced a three-year extension with Premier League side Chelsea FC.

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The partnership is understood to be a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and builds on AXA’s existing Global Partner agreement with Liverpool.

The deal is the largest ever sponsorship investment in UK women’s sport and comes less than a year after the league went fully professional in September 2018.

Under the five-year global deal, Oppo will become the first Official Smartphone Partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is officially known.

US sportswear brand Nike is paying about $7.5m (€6.7m) per year to sponsor China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), according to industry sources.