Jersey sponsorship in the NBA continues to grow and a trend is developing.
When the NBA announced they would start allowing teams to have sponsors on their uniforms back in 2016, there was some predictable push-back. Up until this point, it was a foreign concept to American sports. The MLS was the only major league in America that had jersey sponsors and that was only because it was already accustomed to the sport across the world.
Flash-forward to 2018 and only five teams do not have a jersey sponsor. While it has been a slow integration, the fact that only five teams remain proves this is a valuable space for all those involved.
And when you look at those five teams (Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Washington Wizards), it is more likely than not they will conform eventually. Perhaps all five are currently negotiating and working on a deal as we speak.
That brings us to the latest jersey patch deal: the Phoenix Suns and PayPal as pictured below. A staggering ten of the 25 jersey patch deals (40%!) are with phone apps/internet-based brands. It is clear that teams are utilizing their new inventory by partnering with innovative and up-and-coming companies.
You might think only the smaller-market teams would sign a deal with a new or lesser-known brand, but that is not the case. The Los Angeles Lakers signed a multi-year deal with Wish, an e-commerce company that does most of its business outside of the U.S.
PayPal may be more established and well-known, but it is still an unexpected choice to be the Suns' jersey sponsor. But after hearing the details, this deal seems like it will be fantastic for both sides.
To maximize ROI, the Suns are allowing fans to now use PayPal and Venmo to purchase tickets as well as concessions and merchandise. Some people have come out and said it is too much trouble and they would rather just pay cash or use a card. However, electronic payments--especially Venmo--are gaining popularity. Especially among the younger generation who just happen to be the target audience of the NBA.
The Phoenix Suns clearly know their market and how our world is changing. And as stated earlier, they are not the outlier. Nine other teams have signed deals with dating apps, ecommerce apps, or health-related apps. It is where the future is and as long as the patch isn't too distracting (I'm talking to you Brooklyn Nets), they will continue to be extremely valuable to NBA teams.
Check out some pictures below of the current jersey patches and let us know what you think on Twitter or LinkedIn! @TrakSoftware.
Written by: James Campbell
James Campbell is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan with his B.A. in Sport Management. Throughout his time at Michigan, he has worked with Detroit City FC, MiLife Sport & Social Club, and USA Hockey. - @Jimmy10Campbell