On Friday, the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program.
When news surfaced that the NBA was considering the move to sell some ad space on players' uniforms, there was the belief NBA uniforms would look like soccer uniforms, where a sponsor’s name dominates all graphic elements on the garment.
In fact, that smaller patch will be much more subtle than previously imagined, appearing on the left side of the uniform -- opposite the Nike logo, which has been on uniforms for some time.
This is also much less drastic than other, higher-profile sports sponsorship, like the selling of a name of the team. Think of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. Also think about virtually the entire sport of professional cycling: road bike, mountain bike and otherwise. Teams always go by their sponsor's name.
For prospective NBA marketing sponsors, the little square patch is good news -- even if you are sharing the space with Nike. And, by the way, will sports apparel makers, perhaps a brand like Under Armour, be looking buy some of that space, giving Nike a run for its money?
Last year the NBA witnessed growing viewership on its national TV platforms. For example, through 16 NBA games on ABC, viewership was up 9% to 3,926,000 viewers. For 76 games on ESPN, viewership was 10% higher to 1,652,000.
No matter the patch size, expanding branded entertainment options with live TV programming -- still the only wide-reaching real-time media platform -- will be a boon.
And for sure, there will be close-ups of players when the action comes to a halt. Your GEICO agent will be waiting to take your call.