Two years ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told a meeting of franchise presidents that their teams could generate upwards of $4 million each by placing advertising on jerseys. Later that year, then-COO John Collins told a sports media technology conference that ads on jerseys were “coming and happening.”
So what's been the holdup?
Waiting for someone else to do it first.
“We certainly won’t be the first. And you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming,” said Bettman, when the NHL announced its deal with Adidas.
On Thursday night, the NBA did it.
"Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "We're always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial."
NHL, you’re on the clock.
Of course, the NHL has already tried to sell ads on jerseys, for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. (Which, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the NBA paved the way for as well after putting Kia logos onto its 2016 All-Star Game gear.) As of February, they had yet to find companies willing to meet their $8 million asking price.
One imagines it’ll be easier to sell ads for an NHL regular season and the playoffs, which are far more established than the newly reinvented World Cup.
So now that the NBA has committed to ads, it’s just a matter of time. Where will the NHL put them? What will they look like?
If the NHL is using basketball for guidance, the NBA is placing theirs “on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo. Patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor's logo.”
Also, one interesting nugget: “The sponsor patch will not appear on the retail versions of the player jerseys but teams will have the option to sell the jerseys with sponsor patches in their own retail outlets.”
The NHL would do well to follow that advice, even if millions of international soccer fans will tell you that having an ad as part of the retial kit is a time-honored tradition.
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