One of the sports world’s longest-running love affairs has been that between NBA players and their Beats headphones. Now the two big brands are making things official, announcing a multi-year global partnership that will see Beats by Dre become the official supplier of headphones, wireless speakers, and other audio gear for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, and US national basketball team.
NBA superstar LeBron James features prominently in the promo for the NBA x Beats announcement, which makes sense in light of his previous promotional work for Beats and reported minority stake in the company before the Apple acquisition. James, like many of his colleagues in the NBA and fellow athletes in the NFL, has long been a keen user of Beats headphones. Many wear the brand without even being paid for it, which has helped to cement its reputation as the favorite accessory of sportsmen in the US. A similar fashion has proliferated across European soccer fields as well in recent years.
The only rival that has come close to unseating Beats from its established dominance among athletes has been Apple’s own-brand AirPods. Soccer players have been quick to ditch the over-ear Beats for the effortless, almost miniature AirPods hockey sticks. But this NBA deal isn’t a defensive move for Beats. It’s an effort to tap into obvious marketing and merchandise tie-ins that haven’t yet been realized, such as team-branded headphones, which Beats promises to release in due course.