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NBA makes Beats by Dre its official headphone partner

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

Beats by Dre is the new official headphone and wireless speaker partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, and USA Basketball, starting in October 2018, the NBA announced on Wednesday. The NBA’s previous headphone partner was JBL.

The deal comes as Beats observes its 10th anniversary. The rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine cofounded the brand in 2008 and sold it to Apple in 2014 for more than $3 billion.

Beats boasts a wide roster of NBA players among its sponsored endorsers, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, James Harden, Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons.

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors warms up before an NBA pre-season game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2017. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Beats “one of the most innovative and culturally-influential brands in the world” and that, “Through our partnership, we have an exciting opportunity to merge sports, pop culture and technology to deliver unparalleled experiences and premium products to our fans.”

NBA goes with Beats, while NFL is Bose

In the NFL, the official headphone is Bose.

That deal has been in place since 2014, and the two renewed the partnership last year, with added exposure for Bose during NFL replay reviews.

But the Bose deal with the NFL has also carried some controversy: Beats is extremely popular among NFL players, and many have been fined for wearing Beats headphones in pre-game warmups or at press conferences. Players have often taped over the Beats logo to avoid the fines.

The NBA is unlikely to face the same issue. If players wear a competitor headphone brand during warmups, which are typically hours before the game starts, they would not be required to cover any logos, an NBA spokesperson says. 

Another interesting wrinkle is Apple’s ownership of Beats. For the purposes of the new deal with Beats, NBA executives only dealt with leadership from Beats.

But one wonders if some kind of NBA deal directly with Apple might be further down the road. Industry sources tell Yahoo Finance that the NBA and Apple have held discussions around potential partnerships.

Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. He hosts the podcast Sportsbook. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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