Kelly Scott Madison

Jersey Ads: Coming to a U.S. league soon?



Recent discussions might bring jersey advertising to the four major U.S. leagues 

When it comes to sports, there’s no shortage of discussion surrounding the name on the back of every jersey. Fans fall in love with the hotshot quarterback or rookie point guard that dazzles with no-look passes. However, there may soon be another name featured on jerseys for the public to talk about.

For the first time in the United States, an advertiser’s logo will appear on a uniform in one of the four major leagues. Participants in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game will wear jerseys featuring the Kia logo. The logo will be small and discretely placed in the upper left corner of the uniform. The two-year All-Star test is expected to be just the beginning, as league officials are pressing for uniform advertising to become commonplace in the coming years.

Kia’s deal to appear on the All-Star uniforms was completed during negotiations with Turner Broadcasting. Kia, an official sponsor of the NBA, often places advertisements during NBA games on TNT, which is owned by Turner. Turner gained the ability to sell ads on NBA jerseys as an adjunct to its NBA broadcasting rights contract through the 2025 to‘26 season.

So what does this all mean? Well, jersey advertising is not a revolutionary concept. It is widespread across major sports in almost every other country, appearing on soccer and basketball uniforms in Europe, rugby shirts in Australia and baseball jerseys in Japan. Even in the U.S., corporate logos are seen plastered all over NASCAR cars and driver jumpsuits, as well as on golfers’ hats, shirts, pants and bags. But up until the NBA announced the Kia agreement, the four largest U.S. leagues, the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, have avoided jersey advertising altogether.

At first glance, it seems illogical that advertisements are not already on every team’s jersey. After all, sports are a business, and selling advertising space on jerseys is another, potentially lucrative revenue stream. Marc Ganis, a sports marketing consultant, estimates that each league could generate hundreds of millions of dollars if small ads are sold on jerseys. But the reasons this has yet to occur...

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