The NBA announced a change to the configuring of the team jerseys for next season, moving the NBA logo from the front to the back. The NBA cited the reason for the move as stylistic, but it could be the precursor for selling ad space on NBA jerseys.
The NBA has stated before that a move towards ads on jerseys are inevitable and could happen as soon as the next 5 years.
“It just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get that much closer to our fans and to our players. It gives us an opportunity just to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship,” Silver said at a recent conference. “Increasingly as we see Champion’s League and English Premier League televised in the US, I think it’s going to become more acceptable and more commonplace for our fans as well.”
The WNBA teams are already incorporating sponsorship logos on their jerseys to the point that they consume most of the space, dwarfing the team logo. See if you can find the Sparks team logo in the following photo of Darxia Morris:
The NBA introduced short sleeved jerseys last season which were seemingly lambasted by everybody: fans, media and players; even one player (Lebron James) citing the jerseys as a contributor for his shooting woes.
While the NBA claimed that the jerseys were simply a means of increasing sales of team merchandise the extra space on the jersey sure does leave a lot of room for ads and look eerily similar to those European soccer jerseys that already sell out space for sponsors.
Aesthetics aside, the incorporation of advertisements on jerseys would generate a reported 100 million annually for the NBA. The additional revenue should make both the players and owners happy and prevent future lock outs as it increases the basketball related income which is split among the two sides (albeit in a very complicated and convoluted manner.)
So while many fans might find the thought of ads on team jerseys unappealing, they might be the answer to harmony in the NBA and keep the product on the court when the next CBA negotiation comes around. Although, many can argue, when has more money ever solved problems? Whether it does or not, it seems we’ll find out because ads on team jerseys are coming to the NBA sooner rather than later.
– Fern Rea
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