The NBA jersey is not too far from being the newest and hottest advertising venue in sports. Many sources say that as the NBA negotiated for a new 9 year, $24 billion TV deal with TNT and ESPN, the idea of putting ads on players’ jerseys received attention too.
The NBA has toyed with this idea in many forms over the years. In fact, the NBA has already put ads on practice jerseys and, last season, placed ads on the front and back of the Rookie and Sophomore Game jerseys.
However, it is still unclear how the revenue from the advertisement patches would be distributed. There is rumors that TV networks would get a significant slice of the money. In fact, some believe that when a team is on a nationally televised game, their jersey sponsor(s) would be required to also advertise during the game. That way networks don’t lose potential big advertisers who would otherwise decide to go with just the jerseys.
Here is something you might not have noticed this season… The NBA logoman is no longer on the front of the NBA jerseys. I’ll give you a minute to look it up because I didn’t believe it either when I heard about it for the first time. That NBA logoman has been moved to the top back where small team logos had previously dwelled. On the front, the upper left and right side of the players’ jerseys are now wide open real estate. One 2×2 inch patch on the left side is rumored to be the first step in NBA jersey ads. Commissioner Adam Silver thinks NBA teams, collectively, could generate $100 million by selling 30 patch sponsors each season (to begin, 1 sponsor per team). However, this sounds a bit too optimistic as English Premier League soccer teams made close to $184 million in sponsors last year and their corporate logos cover the entire front of their shirts. It’s hard to think the NBA would receive more than half that figure for their small, four square inch patches. Bigger ideas (and bigger ads) are already being discussed for special events though. It has been noted that TNT will be able to sell ad space on the jerseys for the 2017 All-Star Game.
In a world of sponsored All-Star events, sponsored replays, sponsored arenas, and “The Official __(Deodorant)__ of the __(NBA)__” (and there is such a thing; it’s Right Guard), it was only a matter of time before we came to companies becoming, “The Official Sponsor of the Portland Trail Blazers.” If the NBA follows the international soccer and basketball precedent, it is only a few seasons until brand names or brand logos carry more visual weight than the actual team name on the front of jerseys. The question starts to become: Is the NBA going to become as ad-intensive as NASCAR?? Although some may question if the NBA is willing to go that far, no one is questioning the NBA for collecting millions upon millions of dollars while generating millions upon millions of impressions with this new, alternative income stream.