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So How Much Is an NFL Jersey Worth?

A while back, we did a Freakonomics Radio program asking why the NFL hasn’t (yet) put advertising on its players’ jerseys. One person we spoke with was Michael Neuman, then of Amplify Sports and Entertainment and now of Horizon Media. Neuman and Horizon have just released a report that tries to put a firm dollar figure on jersey sponsorship. SportsBusiness Journal has the writeup:

The four big stick-and-ball leagues are leaving a total of more than $370 million on the table annually by not selling jersey advertising, according to new research from Horizon Media.
The NFL, with its unrivaled ratings and concomitantly higher ad rates, topped the list for jersey valuations at nearly $231 million, or 62 percent of all potential big four jersey ad sales. However, the nature of football – with players more crowded together and with less static time facing the camera – means that the NFL offers the least of what the study terms “detections” among the four leagues, with 28,560 calculated over the course of a season. Baseball, meanwhile, with its typical center-field and behind-the-catcher camera angles, scored more than 314,000 detection opportunities.
The total jersey valuation for MLB teams came in at more than $101 million. The NBA total was $31 million, and the NHL at $8 million, according to the report.

The article covers some of the complications that we addressed in the podcast as well — for instance:

“If I’m an owner, I’m saying that’s my real estate. And if I’m a network with league rights and I can’t sell it, then I’m paying less for those rights,” said Chris Weil, CEO of marketing agency Momentum Worldwide, whose client list includes heavy sports spenders like Coca-Cola and American Express. “You also might run into a problem if you ask a player to take a pay cut, as they are in the current [NFL] labor negotiations, and then sell space on what a player might consider his jersey.”

By the way: next week, our Freakonomics Radio podcast and Marketplace segment will both explore the hidden side(s) of those NFL labor negotiations. You’ll hear from a variety of the principals involved, ranging from the league to the teams to the players’ union to the players themselves.