Corporate logos on players jerseys are commonplace in the
British Premier League and throughout international soccer, noted
Mr. Silver. With U.S. TV coverage of these leagues already bringing
the sight of these jerseys into American living rooms, ads on
players jerseys are an idea whose time has come, he said.
"It just creates that much more of an opportunity for our
marketing partners to get that much closer to our fans and to our
players. It gives us an opportunity just to have deeper integration
when it comes to those forms of sponsorship. ... Increasingly as we
see Champion's League and English Premier League televised in the
U.S., I think it's going to become more acceptable and more
commonplace for our fans as well."
When asked if the switch would come within five years, Mr.
Silver answered "definitely." After a moment's thought, he amended
that to: "Most likely."
After his presentation, Mr. Silver told Ad Age "almost all" of
the NBA's corporate sponsors have expressed interest in slapping
their corporate logos on player jerseys. "I think it's coming. It's
inevitable. It's such as enormous opportunity for our sponsors to
connect with us. I think the marketplace is asking for it." The
league's corporate sponsors include: Nike, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch
InBev, Samsung, State Farm, Taco
Bell, Diageo and Kumho Tire.
The NBA would be the first of the four major U.S. sports leagues
(including the NFL, Major League Baseball and NHL) to break the taboo against selling
corporate logos on the front of player jerseys. Currently, these
leagues only carry logos of athletic companies such as Nike, the
NFL's offical outfitter.
The NFL, however, was quick to shoot down the very idea that it
would move to put sponsor logos on uniforms. "No, we're not. We are
approached every year by companies but we are not considering it,"
said spokesman Brian McCarthy.