NBA Jersey Sponsors Are Seeing Their Investment Pay Off

The NBA last year became the first big four professional sports league to permit teams to seek sponsors for their uniforms. This isn’t uncommon in sports, soccer has been doing this for years, when the soccer team, Peñarol, from Uruguay put sponsors on their uniforms in the 1950’s. That soon lead to an explosion of sponsorship in European Soccer.  


The list of NBA teams and their Patch sponsors:

NBA TEAM Sponsor
Atlanta Hawks Sharecare
Boston Celtics GE
Brooklyn Nets Infor
Charlotte hornets Lending tree
Chicago Bulls Zenni Optical
Cleveland Cavaliers Good Year
Dallas Mavericks 5miles
Denver Nuggets Western Union
Denver Pistons Flagstar Bank
Golden State Warriors Rakuten
Houston Rockets ROKiT
Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Clippers Bumble
Los Angeles Lakers Wish
Memphis Grizzlies FedEx
Miami Heat Ultimate Software
Milwaukee Bucks Harley-Davidson
Minnesota Timberwolves FitBit
New Orleans Pelicans Zatarains
New York Knicks SquareSpace
Oklahoma City Thunder
Orlando Magic Disney
Philadelphia 76ers StubHub
Phoenix Suns PayPal
Portland Trail Blazers Biofreeze (Performance Health)
Sacramento Kings Blue Diamond Almonds
San Antonio Spurs Frost Bank
Toronto Raptors Sun Life Financial
Utah Jazz Qualtrics (5 for the Fight Charity)
Washington Wizards Geico

With the NBA allowing advertising on jerseys it was monumental not just for basketball, but the rest of the Big Four Leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL). After one season the NBA’s decision to allow sponsorship has been paying off, in fact the inaugural season with the patches, was the first time the NBA sponsor spend was over $1 billion, at $1.12 billion, a 31 percent rise from previous season.

The driver for this spending is the logo patches on the front of the jersey. 82 games a year and there are 30 NBA teams that is 2,460 NBA games a year. That is a lot of television time for viewers to see those fancy new patches.

IEG/ESP, a division of ad agency WPP that tracks sponsor spending and ROI on the major US sports leagues, came out to say the jersey patches accounted for $137 million of the years total $1.12 billion, that’s a small portion, but that was all just in one NBA. When this report came out, nine teams did not have sponsors on their jersey. Going into this season, only two teams (Indiana Pacers & Oklahoma City Thunder) do not have sponsors on their logos.

GumGum Sports, analyzed logo exposure on social media from the 2017-18 NBA Season determining the top five most-seen logo patches were:

  1. GoodYear on the Cavaliers Jersey
  2. Rakuten on the Warriors Jersey
  3. GE on the Celtics Jersey
  4. Wish on the Lakers Jersey
  5. Stubhub on the 76ers Jersey

They estimated those five teams earned $250 million in exposure, so $50 million per team, just for allowing a sponsor to put their logo on their uniforms. That is a no brainer.

What I found most interesting about the results from one season of having sponsors on logo was the patch being a “social asset” because of all the exposure they were getting from social media over television broadcast. Jeff Katz, General Manager of GumGum Sports, analyzed the exposure from both platforms and discovered Social Media brought in 76% of the media value, compared to 24% from TV broadcasts. Katz explained this when he said:

“The jersey patch is just such a unique asset. Especially because during a game, the gameplay is so fast that it might be tough to pick up the jersey patch in a clear way, but on social media, typically when you’re posting about players, you include a photo that has a player wearing a game jersey, and those are often showcasing the jersey patch. Then with highlight clips as well, they often have slow-motion and close-ups of players doing spectacular things. It’s a tremendous asset that is really defined by social.”

The way people consume basketball is changing as technology does. So advertisers and marketers have to realize these trends and get ahead of them, by figuring out where there best return on investment for their advertising or marketing campaigns. After the success the NBA is having, it would not surprise me at all to see the other leagues follow in the near future.

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