The NBA Finally Agrees To Allow Ads On Its Jerseys
It seems like for years, every few months we’d hear the rumor that the NBA was considering allowing ads on its jerseys. The rumor would heat up, the NBA would deny it, the rumor would die down, some time would go by, then the cycle would repeat. After a while, NBA fans overall just learned to ignore it, as it took on a “boy who cried wolf” persona. Well, it’s back – and this time we’re not only looking at a rumor, it’s the real deal.
The NBA’s board of governors voted during their spring meeting last month to approve a 3-year trial of advertisements on NBA jerseys, and thus become the first major US sports league to allow jersey advertisements during its regular season. During this year’s All-Star game, the league had allowed 2.5 inch by 2.5-inch KIA ads on jerseys as an experiment; these will be the same type of ads allowed per this new agreement. The ads will be placed on the left shoulder of the players’ uniforms, where the NBA logo was previously (the NBA logo was moved to the back of the jerseys a few years ago). The ads will appear beginning with the 2017-2018 season; the same year Nike will begin supplying the league’s jerseys (taking over from ADIDAS).
Each of the NBA’s 30 teams will have to sell its own space to potential sponsors. Adam Silver, the league’s commissioner, predicts this decision could generate upwards of $100 million in revenue for the NBA and its teams.
The implications of this decision could be huge for the NBA, especially for smaller market teams. In recent years, the landscape of the NBA has become somewhat uneven – larger market teams increasingly possess more draw for big name players, and thus generate more revenue. Smaller market teams typically get “tier 2” name players and consequently lack those same big revenue streams. Uniform advertising could provide an additional large source of income for some of the struggling teams out there, providing them an additional way to stay afloat and helping balance out the league a bit.
Moreover, this decision could also have a dramatic effect on professional sports in general in the US. Major League Soccer and the WNBA have ventured into the world of jersey adverting thus far, and obviously NASCAR has fully embraced corporate sponsors and ads. But the NBA is the first of the “big 4” to take the plunge. You can bet that the NHL, MLB and NFL will keep a watchful eye on the NBA over the next few years. And if its new jersey ads prove to be successful, we’ll some day see ads on every pro sports jersey out there. Time will tell.