Potential Jersey Sponsorship in the Big 4 Sports
A recent article in the Sports Business Journal declared that jersey rights fees for the Big 4 pro sports leagues could total over $370 million. That’s a lotta cake to leave on the plate! It would logically suggest (given revenue-hungry owners and increasingly desperate advertisers) that North American teams will adopt company logos on their uniforms sooner rather than later. How that will happen might surprise you.
Horizon Media, the authors of the study used “computerized exposure evaluation techniques” and based application of each logo as comparable to an English Premier League jersey. Naturally, the NFL was the highest ranked, posting an estimate value of $231 million. MLB was next at $101 million. NHL teams posted the lowest value, but its “quality impact” was second only to MLB, a fact attributed to the frequent stoppages in play allowing for higher screen time.
“We don’t necessarily see this happening soon in the U.S.,” said Michael Neuman, Horizon Media’s managing partner for sports, entertainment and events. Given the values, why not?! Well, the real stumbling block behind jersey rights is not psychological barriers, per se, but ownership. Who owns the jersey rights in the first place? Aggressive owners such as Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) or Ed Snider of the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) would undoubtably demand ownership. After all, it’s their real estate. If I’m a player, do I not have some say as to what marketing partners I choose to apply to MY jersey? If I endorse Gatorade does the team’s application of Red Bull scupper that deal? If I’m the network partner and I can’t sell jersey rights, then I should pay less for those rights…right?! Heck, even Reebok and Nike could demand part of the action, given they’re used to having that playing field all to themselves.
So how is advertising on jerseys going to become reality? The answer could be found in a small Canadian-based charity. Recently Chelsea FC agreed to feature the Right To Play logo on the back of its Champion’s League kit(s).“As a club we acknowledge the vital role that sport can play in our local and global communities and we are delighted to be leading the way by featuring a charity sponsor on our Champions League shirt,” Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck is quoted as saying. Recognizing a positive PR move, Samsung and adidas, current Chelsea jersey sponsors, agreed to the deal!