TikTok is cutting deals with pro sports leagues, and now men’s and women’s soccer clubs are signing on

Eryk Williamson of the Portland Timbers FC.

Source: Portland Timbers

With the political firestorm round TikTookay having dissipated a bit, the social media app continues its enlargement into the U.S. sports panorama.

TikTookay, which is owned by Chinese agency ByteDance, introduced Tuesday it is now a jersey patch sponsor for each Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers franchise and sister group Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. The agreements begin within the 2021 seasons.

Terms of the partnership weren’t offered. According to some projections, MLS clubs can normally count on about $1 million per 12 months for patch sponsorships.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Mike Golub, the Timbers’ president, referred to as the pact an “equal partnership.” He declined to disclose particular numbers of the multiyear settlement however mentioned the valuation is barely greater than a $1 million estimation, as TikTookay has the patch on two groups.

“It will be on the high end of the value of patches that have been sold in the MLS and NWSL,” Golub mentioned, mentioning the longevity of the patch on jerseys, which may even be offered with the patch to followers on team-run properties.

“What makes this unique for us, it’s about the lens at which we view this partnership,” Harish Sarma, TikTookay director of world strategic partnerships, instructed CNBC. “The concept of a joint patch partnership across both the men’s and women’s game and picking two storied franchises, that’s a first for us, and we think it’s a first for sports in general.”

MLS commenced its jersey patch program final January, permitting clubs to put 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch firm logos on the correct sleeve of recreation jerseys. Clubs can solely add the sleeve patch in the event that they’ve already secured a major sponsor, which has the primary brand on the entrance of a jersey.

Crystal Dunn of the Portland Thorns FC.

Source: Portland Timbers

The Timbers’ prime sponsor is at present Alaska Airlines.

As a part of the membership’s settlement with TikTookay, the corporate can have a presence through digital signage and digital platforms of each clubs. The deal permits the groups to provide weekly content material, together with highlights and behind-the-scenes footage on TikTookay.

To make up for the nearly $1 billion in losses attributable to Covid-19, MLS created a patch slot on the left sleeve too. Golub mentioned the group is undecided on whether or not it could make that slot accessible ought to MLS formally approve its return in 2021.

“We’ll think about what or if anything we’ll want to do with it,” he mentioned.

TikTookay survived a busy 2020 because it discovered itself in the course of a U.S.-China feud. ByteDance was forced to sell its U.S. TikTookay operations to Oracle and Walmart by former President Donald Trump, who pushed for efforts to deal with potential safety considerations about Chinese tech corporations. But the transaction has been delayed after a number of courts struck down the ban on the app and the brand new Biden administration evaluations the state of affairs.

Though TikTookay battled geopolitical drama, Sarma mentioned it did not impression partnership discussions with U.S. sports clubs.

“What you’re seeing is more partners understanding the value and frankly us getting to a place where our goals are aligned with those partners,” he mentioned. “It’s a sign that it’s business as usual and as it has been.”

A person holding a cellphone walks previous an indication of Chinese firm ByteDance’s app TikTookay, identified regionally as Douyin, on the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019.


TikTookay additionally just lately announced a deal with blended martial arts agency UFC to provide unique livestream content material. Sarma mentioned TikTookay is engaged in additional conversations with clubs about potential patch partnerships, particularly with National Basketball Association groups looking for new deals.

“Whenever you have any announcement of the magnitude that we’ve had recently, it’s inevitable that there is going to be interest from all corners, whether that’s NBA teams or teams from other leagues,” he mentioned. “Those are going to happen. We’re not surprised by the interest, and that’s going to continue.”

He added sports followers on TikTookay normally search National Football League, NBA and soccer content material and have recommended the customers need extra, which is why TikTookay will heart its technique round these sports.

In August, TikTookay revealed its number of monthly active users had grown almost 800% since January 2018. More than 100 million Americans are month-to-month lively customers right this moment, and the agency mentioned it has 50 million each day U.S. customers. That offers sports groups who associate with the mobile-video platform model publicity and entry to a Gen Z social media crowd.

TikTookay additionally has partnerships with the New York Yankees, NASCAR driver Ryan Vargas and abroad soccer clubs.

“We’re building up our offering across every vertical,” Sarma mentioned when requested about TikTookay’s 2021 plans for sports partnerships. “There is more coming.”

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