ESPN’s second Pickleball Slam, scheduled for February 4th at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, is following on the success of its inaugural event.
With tennis legends John McEnroe and Andre Agassi returning alongside first-timers Stefanie Graf and Maria Sharapova, this sequel boasts a prize purse of $1 million. It has consequently attracted key sponsors such as Hard Rock, State Farm, Brighthouse Financial, and Franklin Sports.
Substantial Branding Rights
The lineup of sponsors, announced by Horizon Sports & Experiences and InsideOut Sports + Entertainment, guarantees substantial branding rights for all sponsors within the court, benches, non-volley zone, and the ball itself.
The first iteration of the competition witnessed a riveting clash involving McEnroe and Andy Roddick against Agassi and Michael Chang. The match-up culminated in a victory for team Agassi-Chang, with the showdown attracting an average of 237,000 viewers among adults under 50. This put it into the top five watched events of the day, tying with a Sunday NHL game on TNT.
In its broader context, the event surpassed the viewership of 13 nationally televised MLB games, seven NBA matchups, and five NHL games within the programming week of March 27th to April 2nd.
The upcoming 2024 event is set for a live broadcast at 8:30 p.m. ET, with tickets priced at $46 each.
Neal Gluckman, head of sales at Horizon Sports & Experiences, talked enthusiastically about Slam 2, noting the overwhelming interest following the success of the inaugural event.
He told Barry B. Bloom of Sportico: “After our inaugural event drew a capacity crowd and scored impressive viewership and social media attention, we have experienced unprecedented interest for Slam 2, evident by the support we have from our four initial outstanding presenting partners.”
David Levy, the brains behind the Pickleball Slam events and former head of Turner Broadcasting, drew parallels between this event and the successful golf tournament, The Match. The Match brought together Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a winner-take-all showdown.
A Magic Formula
“We took that same concept with the best racket players in sports—McEnroe, Agassi, Roddick, and Chang—and put them in the fastest-growing sport in America right now with great brand names, and I think we have a magic formula there as well,” he said.
Slam II adds a spicy new twist to the event by introducing the two female tennis legends, Steffi Graf and Maria Sharapova. Putting Graf on a husband and wife team with Agassi and Sharapova next to John McEnroe means the sparks are sure to fly as these four Grand Slam-winning tennis titans duke it out on the pickleball court.
Gluckman reiterated the unique branding and customer engagement opportunities offered by this platform:
“We are excited to return to the court alongside this strong group of companies who believe in this one-of-a-kind branding and proven customer engagement opportunity that only our platform can provide to fans in person and watching at home,”
The anticipation surrounding Slam 2 stands as a testament to the growing appeal of this unique sporting spectacle, promising another electrifying showdown for fans, in person and watching from home.
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