Where Major League Soccer dares to go, other major American sports leagues follow. That’s the rare conclusion to be drawn from an article at Sports Business Daily which says NFL and NBA teams may be “not be as far as you’d think” from following MLS by allowing jersey sponsorship. Indeed, this season the NBA and NHL are following the NFL’s lead by allowing sponsors on practice jerseys, and the WNBA has already taken the step on its proper jerseys.
“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 [NBA Deputy Commissioner] Adam Silver: “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.”
This comment about product-placement time is interesting in the sense that soccer has always had this problem, with no commercial break opportunities during playing time — how curious and fascinating is it that changes in television viewing habits based on technology might be driving the business models of American sports leagues like the NBA closer to soccer?AIG, soon to be replaced by AON as Man Utd’s shirt sponsor