6 Companies That Could Capitalize On 'Lin-sanity'

by: Kevin Quon

In less than a week, NBA sensation Jeremy Lin has provided to money-spending, basketball-fanaticized zealots what fairy tale writers can only dream of conveying in a lasting book: One feel-good story of rags-to-riches. By all accounts, the New York Knicks' new starting point guard has given new hope to not only the team, but to the league as a whole, along with the several demographics that have closely identified with him. And with every tale of success, there is a line of profit-seeking companies that will be sure to capitalize upon the success that has become Jeremy Lin.

For those who may have missed out on the "Lin-sanity" of the past week, here is the summary of this emerging phenomenon. As the first Asian-American basketball player to have made it to the NBA, Jeremy Lin has fit his stereotype in all ways possible. Passed up by all his college preferences, Jeremy Lin entered Harvard without financial incentive (read "scholarship") and led the team to numerous school records. With the NBA draft, Jeremy Lin was again passed up by all 30 teams, only to be discovered after facing off against the first overall draft pick John Wall during Summer League games. Given a deal with the Golden State Warriors, Lin was inactivated due to a packed bench, and sent down to the development league. Despite his success in the D-League, Lin was eventually let go and eventually claimed by the New York Knicks. Benched again, Jeremy Lin was only given a chance to play when the time came for a decision to be made about his future with the team. Even then, it was only after a severe losing streak and the loss of several key players, did Lin get a chance to shine. And in four consecutive games thus far, the young 23-year old player has played like an All-Star. He has broken team records and now holds the record as the most points scored by a player in his first three starts since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

In light of his recent success, Forbes details Jeremy Lin as a possible transformative player not only for the Knicks but for the NBA as a whole. Forbes contributor Patrick Rische suggests the Jeremy Lin economic impact could be worth $150 million by 2012-2013. We should bear in mind the lasting economic support a rising star offers as the publication suggests that the NBA alone might reasonably receive a $40 million - $80 million uptick in revenues from the surge of "Lin-sanity." Filling the void of a hole left by Yao Ming's departure, Jeremy Lin's success has offered a marketing catalyst to the world's more populated region found in Asia.

Above all, Jeremy Lin holds several key audiences glued to their seats. He has captured the Asian-American audience, which is the closest population to identify with him. He has enthralled the Asian market, where TV stations have begun to add Knicks games to their broadcasts. He's renewed interest for the NBA (like Tim Tebow did for the NFL) which had previously faded due to the infamous lockout. He's stirred interest for the Christian population as a believer who publicly expressed humility before God in his comments. And of course, he's brought about huge support for the Knicks, who were beginning to look like they had another losing season on their hands. As a result of these demographics, marketers alike have been scurrying to exploit the situation. In light of this explosive situation, some of the following companies might soon be able to benefit from the marketing capabilities that Jeremy Lin has to offer:

  • The Madison Square Garden Company (NASDAQ:MSG). The company most directly affected by the rising star, Madison Square Garden owns the media rights to the New York Knicks along with the stadium at which they play. Evidenced by rising ticket prices, the company has already seen a positive correlation to its shares. Nevertheless, the company's media revenues may be hampered by an ongoing conflict with Time Warner (TWC).

  • Nike, Inc. (NYSE:NKE). With an ongoing sponsorship with Nike, Lin will likely have a positive impact that will help boost the company's sales and further prolong its branding dominance. The impact here will be direct, and has the potential to reclaim the Asian market that has likely diminished without the presence of Yao Ming.

  • Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO). While having a possible direct benefit through future promotional branding, the beverage industry also stands to prosper with possible increased consumption from a renewed interest in basketball. Coca-Cola recently renewed a partnership with Madison Square Garden in 2010 that gives them some direct exposure and lands them as a likely beverage sponsor of Lin in the future.

  • Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Despite a minimal effect at best, its noteworthy that the company itself will likely prosper from the ongoing Jeremy Lin craze. In less than a week, YouTube has had the addition of millions of views for videos of Jeremy Lin. One can only imagine what the increased search exposure can be doing for the company as well.

  • Disney (NYSE:DIS). As the owner of ESPN, the company can indirectly benefit from a renewed interest in basketball along with some direct coverage of games not covered by Madison Square Garden.

  • Live Nation (NYSE:LYV). A renewed interest in basketball may also fair well for Live Nation, who's merger with Ticketmaster gives exposure to increased ticket sales. The effect here may be minimal at best.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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