Jul 29, 2009

I think I’ve said this before, but if this recession lasts two more years, I could see general managers wrestling bears at half time, in an effort to generate money (ala Will Ferrell in the movie Semi-Pro).  Everyone knows that sports have been hurt by the economic downturn, its just interesting to see how quickly they’re willing to do things, which previously seemed unconscionable, once the money starts to dry up (i.e. Court side liquor ads)

Today’s recession based decisions come from the NBA and NHL, who have decided to allow ads on practice jerseys,

Beginning this season the NBA will let teams sell ads on their practice jerseys, says deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who adds the league is continuing to explore the issue of ads on game jerseys.

“We are operating a diverse business all around the world,” Silver says. “(The sponsored game jersey) is a well-established practice in other countries. Ultimately, I think our fans will come to accept it.”

NHL chief operating officer John Collins says the league might put ads on game jerseys for the right price.

Not really a surprising move, given the climate and the NFL’s recent decision to allow sponsors on their practice jerseys.  In case you were wondering, MLB will not be featuring any sponsorship on practice jerseys (I love how the MLB traditionalists would rather go bankrupt than examine sponsorship as a revenue source).  With 3 of the 4 major sports deciding to go the way of the practice jersey, the big question is, How far away are we from sponsorship on game jerseys? Maybe not as far as you’d think,

[Regarding game jersey sponsorships] “Times are different,” says Joe Maloof, whose family company owns the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and WNBA’s Monarchs. “It’s a new economic climate now. Any time you can generate revenue in the right way, you should be able to do it. You have to. If we can find the right partner, why not?”

Says Silver: “In terms of a business model, we want to make sure that we aren’t transferring dollars to the jersey from arena naming rights or another advertising. You have to look at the marketplace to determine if it’s incremental money that’s not already being spent (on the NBA) and we’re not just moving money around from one platform to another.

“It’s a direction all teams are moving. With the advent to TiVo and the enormous number of channel and website choices, it’s become incredibly hard to hold the attention of the viewer during commercial breaks. It’s easier in live sports where viewers are more likely to stay with the program than change the channel. We have been in the product placement business from the beginning.”

Makes sense. technology has certainly made it harder to keep the fans interest during commercial breaks, which in turn could lead to sponsors paying less for advertising during sporting events.  But imagining a Knicks jersey with a huge Pizza Hut emblem across the front? That’s still a tough, albeit maybe necessary, pill to swallow.

USA Today — NBA, NHL soften stance on jersey ads

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