Monday, February 11, 2013

NBA Jersey Sponsorships: The $100 Million Question

The NBA prepares to descend on Houston later this week for the 2013 All-Star Game. It will be a three-day celebration of the NBA and its players. A packed schedule includes a celebrity game, rising stars game, skills competition, slam dunk contest, music entertainment, and interactive fan experiences. Oh, and don't forget about the all-star game on Sunday to round out the weekend!

While the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend offers a full plate of activities to entertain fans, the marketing story getting the most attention these days is the growing possibility of jersey sponsors for NBA teams. Corporate names and patches on jerseys of professional sports teams are commonplace in other parts of the world, but the major U.S.-based pro sport properties have resisted jersey sponsorships to this point. The opinions of many sports marketing experts is that jersey sponsorships in the NBA are no longer a matter of if, but when, the practice will be adopted. Any urgency to allow corporate sponsors for jerseys could be attributed to the revenue stream anticipated, with estimates of $100 million per season to be taken in collectively by the league's 30 teams.

So, you might say that the issue of whether to allow jersey sponsorships is a $100 million question. Here some pros and cons:

  • Alternative to raising ticket prices
  • Shared among all teams; benefits large market and small market teams equally
  • Valuable exclusivity for a sponsor
  • Breaks from tradition of uniforms being "commercial-free zone"
  • Fan backlash to commercialization; Will it negatively impact jersey sales?
  • Sponsor turnover could cause confusion among fans
What are your thoughts about jersey sponsorships in the NBA - Is it a practice whose time has come? Or, do you believe the NBA should look to monetize other assets via selling sponsorships besides jerseys?

Indianapolis Business Journal - "NBA Owners Must Convince Fans Jersey Ads not Cash Grab"