NBA owners have voted to break new advertising ground by approving messaging on team uniforms, which could bring in $125 million a year.
To be fair, this isn't near the billions of dollars the NBA grabs in TV and other advertising revenues. Nowadays these placed-based ad buys could be viewed as a complement to those big media plans and platforms. In an era of media fractionalization, major sports are constantly looking for new advertising niches.
The NBA will let teams sell a two-inch by two-inch patch on the uniform shoulder. It could go for $1.5 million to $7.5 million a year depending on the team, according to projections.
The NBA’s estimated $125 million from these deals is 10% of the $1.25 billion in advertising it gets from national TV outlets ESPN/ABC and TNT. Estimates are the league pulls in $3.5 billion from all revenue sources, including ticket sales and merchandising.
A two-inch by two-inch shoulder patch will not put the NBA on the same level as mostly European-branded games of soccer, cycling, Formula 1 and other sports where teams and players promote major corporate brands on their uniforms -- messaging that in many instances replaces team nicknames.
That said, for a number of years, the WNBA has placed jersey sponsorships on the front of the uniform where the team's nickname would otherwise be. The NBA will be the first major U.S. sports league to add branded images on uniforms. (That is, if you don't believe Nascar should be included).
Place-based media has been growing. and some have wondered whether it will hurt other media. In this instance, will the NBA's print, online TV or radio lose out in this transition?
Increasingly, major consumer market sponsors now look to secure many different touchpoints and messaging awareness opportunities. In recent years, a growing part of the place-based media world has been in the naming rights of sports venues. Courtside, digital in-TV-view signage has also picked up.
What's next? Selling a brand a logo on a basketball, or bigger signage on the backboards? Player tattoos? There isn't much space left to give marketers more opportunity.