For the first time ever, NBA jerseys will have an advertisement on them this season. And perhaps not surprisingly, the team making the most from this — based on the partnerships that have been announced so far — is last year’s champion, the Golden State Warriors.
The team will get $20 million a year to put a Rakuten ad on the upper left chest of the jerseys, according to ESPN.
Rakuten isn’t very well known in the U.S., but it is in Japan. An internet company based in Tokyo, Rakuten Ichiba is one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world. It also owns ebates and several other online entities.
“We want to be a household name like Google
,” Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani told ESPN. Rakuten had $7 billion in revenue in 2016.
And teaming up with an international company was important to the Warriors.
“We felt in order to grow our global vision, we had to be aligned with a global brand,” the team’s chief marketing officer, Chip Bowers, told ESPN.
The biggest U.S. sports leagues — the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL — haven’t done this before, though the soccer league MLS has ads on its jerseys.
The NBA hired a sponsorship research group five years ago to look into selling jersey ads, according to Ad Age. Players won’t look like walking Nascar vehicles: there will be just one 2.5” x 2.5” ad on the left chest of every jersey.
Such ads are common on sports team jerseys outside the U.S., such as in the English Premier League.
After the Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost to the Warriors in the finals last year, will make the most from its jersey sponsorship. The team will reportedly get $7 million to $10 million a year for sporting a Goodyear ad
But not all teams have announced their jersey sponsorships yet, so it’s possible another team in a large market, such as the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers, will make even more for the ad on their jerseys than the Warriors. The NBA season starts on Oct. 17.
Other jersey sponsors that have been announced so far are below. Most of the companies paying for the advertisements are based in the cities or states of the teams.
Philadelphia 76ers: Stubhub
Milwaukee Bucks: Harley-Davidson
Boston Celtics: General Electric
Utah Jazz: Qualtrics
Sacramento Kings: Blue Diamond Almonds
Orlando Magic: Disney
Brooklyn Nets: Infor
Detroit Pistons: Flagstar Bank
Toronto Raptors: Sun Life
Minnesota Timberwolves: Fitbit
Denver Nuggets: Western Union
Atlanta Hawks: Sharecare