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Will the NBA Allow Ads on Jerseys?

(Photo: Danny Bollinger)

One of our earliest Freakonomics Radio podcasts wondered whether the NFL might someday sell ads on players’ game-day uniforms (there is already sponsorship on practice jerseys). After all, it’s common practice in soccer, even in the U.S.

As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, the NBA might beat the NFL to the punch:

What’s not so certain is what a jersey deal is really worth. Front Row Marketing Services, whose parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, runs 11 regional sports networks and owned the Philadelphia 76ers until last fall, figures the annual cost to companies to place their logos on uniforms would range from $1.2 million to $7.5 million per year, depending mainly on the market where the team plays.

study by Horizon Media last year put the annual value of the television exposure of the space across an NBA jersey’s chest in a range from $4.1 million for the L.A. Lakers to $300,000 for the Minnesota Timberwolves. [David] Abruytin [sic], whose IMG arranged the partnership deal between the NBA and its official automotive partner Kia Motors, says those numbers are probably low. He estimates the Lakers could fetch $10 million to $15 million per year.

One big question, addressed in the podcast, is whether ad money from jerseys would really be new money or would cannibalize existing revenue and pose other, undesirable conflicts. Star players, for instance, often have individual sponsorship deals with, say, a car company or a watchmaker. If a rival car company or watchmaker wants to sponsor that player’s team, the star player has incentive and perhaps even the leverage to push back against such a deal.

(HT: Matthew Philips)