According to ESPN reporters Brian Windhorst and Darren Rovell, the NBA is expected to vote in favor of allowing NBA teams to have advertisements on their jerseys starting in the 2017-18 season.
This opens up a whole new revenue stream for NBA franchises and the league and could generate anywhere from $4 million to $6 million a year. One would assume the Warriors or Cavaliers would command more on the open market for the two to two and half inches of marketing space the league is expected to allow on a jersey than say the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although from fan perspective this seems like a bad thing as we are already bombarded by advertisements throughout the arena and the course of a broadcast for any NBA game. I can guarantee no fan wants NBA jerseys to turn into the grotesquely advertised garb that foreign soccer teams or NASCAR drivers wear, but this is a very savvy move for the league.
Adam Silver is very forward thinking and the league is usually very cutting edge with their branding and marketing ideas. These partnerships will lead to the companies making large investments to become ambassadors of the NBA game as well as promote them on their social media. Not to mention more advertising partners for the league.
As long as the size and scope of this new form of jersey advertising is kept minimal, it should bring mostly positive returns to the product for fans and franchises.
The most interesting dilemma that could arise though is the potential conflicts of interests between athlete sponsorship and team sponsorship. It’s not inconceivable that All State could purchase the rights to advertise on the Clippers jerseys even though Chris Paul is a spokesperson for State Farm, or Toyota could sponsor the Cavaliers even though LeBron James is sponsored by Kia.
It will be interesting to see how the league would navigate those issues should this proposal be passed in the league owners meetings this week.