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Movies Dunk All Over 2019 NBA Finals

The 2019 NBA Finals wrapped up on Thursday, June 14 with a thrilling 114-110 Toronto Raptors victory. With the win, the Raptors beat the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors four games to two in the series, to take home the first title in franchise history (and the first for an NBA team outside of the United States).

Directing our attention off the court, though, we used data from TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv to look at the brands that made the most of this year’s NBA Finals — during the U.S. broadcasts on ABC and ESPN, anyway.

According to iSpot, the 2019 NBA Finals generated nearly 8.6 billion impressions over the course of the six games, against an estimated spend of $204.4 million.

Movie studios were the biggest advertisers during this year’s Finals in terms of spend, accounting for 15.7% of the total. Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures were both among the top five advertisers overall, with ads for a variety of films coming out this summer. Columbia put its spend toward promos for Men in Black: International, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, to lead all Finals brand advertisers in terms of spend. Universal was third overall while placing ads for The Secret Life of Pets 2, Hobbs & Shaw, Ma and Yesterday. In total, 24 different movies were advertised during the Finals.

NBA Finals presenting sponsor YouTube TV was second in estimated ad spend, thought that number doesn’t include whatever sponsorship costs were also incurred by the streaming service. Apple iPhone was fourth, and Nissan. YouTube TV is the only league sponsor of that group, and there were several NBA sponsors that completely sat out the Finals (though the majority did air ads).

Universal was the most-seen brand advertiser by impressions during the series (352.4 million), followed by McDonald’s (320.6 million), Columbia (285.9 million), American Express (265.1 million) and Gatorade (255.9 million). However, no individual spot aired more times than Burger King’s “Feed Your Appetite,” following closely by “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (Universal) and “Mallory Pugh Brings the Heat” (Gatorade).

Attention scores (percentage of an ad that’s played across the TV device) provide a different look at which brands earned the most attention, however. Of brands that spent at least $400,000 on NBA Finals TV ads, Corona Refresca was highest at 99.68, followed by Budweiser (99.54), Dove Men+Care (99.41), KFC (99.38) and Mountain Dew (99.36).