TikTok Signs Deals With Professional Sports Leagues, Now Men’s And Women’s Football Clubs Sign


Eryk Williamson of Portland Timbers FC.

Source: Portland Timbers

As the political storm around TikTok has dissipated somewhat, the social media app continues to expand into the American sports landscape.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, announced on Tuesday that it is now a patch sponsor for the Portland Timbers franchise of Major League Soccer and sister team Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. The agreements begin in the 2021 seasons.

The terms of the partnership were not provided. According to some projections, MLS clubs can generally expect around $ 1 million per year for patch sponsorships.

In an interview with TBEN on Monday, Mike Golub, president of the Timbers, called the pact an “equal partnership”. He declined to reveal specific numbers for the multi-year deal, but said the valuation was slightly higher than a $ 1 million estimate because TikTok has the two-team fix.

“This will be on the high end of the value of the patches that have been sold in MLS and NWSL,” Golub said, mentioning the longevity of the patch on the shirts, which will also be sold with the patch to team fans. Properties.

“What makes this unique to us is the purpose in which we see this partnership,” Harish Sarma, TikTok’s director of global strategic partnerships, told TBEN. “The concept of a joint patch partnership on male and female gaming and the selection of two legendary franchises is a first for us, and we believe it is a first for the sport in general.”

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MLS launched its jersey patch program last January, allowing clubs to place 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch corporate logos on the right sleeve of match shirts. Clubs can only add the sleeve patch if they have already secured a main sponsor, which has the main logo on the front of a shirt.

Crystal Dunn of Portland Thorns FC.

Source: Portland Timbers

The main sponsor of the Timbers is currently Alaska Airlines.

As part of the club’s agreement with TikTok, the company will be present through the virtual display and digital platforms of both clubs. The deal allows teams to produce weekly content, including highlights and behind-the-scenes footage on TikTok.

To offset the nearly $ 1 billion in losses due to Covid-19, MLS also created a patch location on the left sleeve. Golub said the team is unsure whether they will make that slot available if MLS officially approves his return in 2021.

“We will think about what we want to do or if we want to do it,” he said.

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TikTok survived a turbulent 2020 as it found itself in the midst of an American-Chinese feud. ByteDance was forced to sell its TikTok operations in the United States to Oracle and Walmart by former President Donald Trump, who lobbied efforts to address potential security concerns from Chinese tech companies. But the transaction was delayed after several courts overturned the ban on the app and the new Biden administration looked into the situation.

Although TikTok has battled a geopolitical drama, Sarma said it has no impact on partnership talks with U.S. sports clubs.

“What you see is more partners understand the value and frankly we are coming to a place where our goals are aligned with these partners,” he said. “It’s a sign that business is business as usual and as it has been.”

A man holding a phone walks past an app sign from Chinese company ByteDance TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019.


TikTok also recently announced a deal with mixed martial arts company UFC to produce exclusive live content. Sarma said TikTok is engaged in more conversations with clubs about potential patch partnerships, especially with National Basketball Association teams looking for new deals.

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“Anytime you have an announcement of the magnitude that we’ve had recently, it’s inevitable that there will be interest from all corners, whether it’s from NBA teams or teams from other leagues, ”he said. “These will happen. We’re not surprised by the interest, and it will continue.”

He added that sports fans on TikTok typically searched for content on the National Soccer League, NBA, and soccer and suggested users want more, which is why TikTok will focus its strategy on these sports.

In August, TikTok revealed that its monthly active user count had increased by nearly 800% since January 2018. More than 100 million Americans are monthly active users today, and the company said it had 50 million daily US users. This gives sports teams who partner with the mobile video platform brand visibility and access to a host of Gen Z social media.

TikTok also has partnerships with the New York Yankees, NASCAR driver Ryan Vargas, and foreign football clubs.

“We are expanding our offering across all verticals,” said Sarma, when asked about TikTok’s plans for 2021 for sports partnerships. “There is more to come.”



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