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Leveraging the Impending Clippers’ Jersey Ads

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It’s coming and it should be more than just about money.

Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Back in April 2016 the NBA approved uniform advertising for the 2017-2018 season. Since then only a handful of teams have actually inked sponsorship deals with corporations for patch space on uniforms next year. Part of the slow development of this money-making opportunity has been the uncertainty surrounding the value and opportunity for these patch spaces on jerseys. The Philadelphia 76ers were the first organization to sell ad-space when they agreed with StubHub on a $5 million/year deal in May 2016. The Sacramento Kings inked a deal ($5 million/year) with Blue Diamond in October.

The ones of late however may share a common theme: analytics/perks.

The Utah Jazz yesterday agreed with Qualtrics on a deal to put a corporate-approved logo (for supporting cancer-research) on the Jazz’s jerseys for next year. Along with money being part of the deal (financial terms were not yet disclosed),

The jersey patch deal is part of a larger arrangement that also makes Qualtrics the team's "exclusive fan experience insights and analytics partner." The team plans to use Qualtrics' tools to collect and analyze fan data to improve the arena experience.

The Boston Celtics agreed in late-January with General Electric on a corporate advertising deal (worth more than $7 million/year) that included, with the logo patch, GE’s agreement to provide

best-in-class expertise, products and insights across data science, medical equipment, and lighting solutions.

The Brooklyn Nets meanwhile agreed in early-February with Infor on a deal estimated to be worth $8 million/year with the promise that

Infor will also provide data analytics and technology to support the team’s business operations, fan experience initiatives and player performance.

The possible exception to this new trend may be the Cleveland Cavaliers who agreed to a deal with Goodyear Tires this month. The terms of that deal are not yet public, but it’s less likely that the Cavs are expecting any specific perk from that deal beyond the money (estimated to be between $5 to $10 million/year), though it is possible that Goodyear could spare some engineers and analysts for basketball related work.

That brings us to the Clippers. Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer is not one to shy away from trying new things. He has discussed implementing a streaming service for Clippers’ games in lieu of traditional TV broadcasts and also perhaps getting the Clippers a new stadium to call home. It should be argued and perhaps expected that Ballmer will not simply sell the Clippers’ jersey space as a simple monetary transaction. Instead, the Clippers have an opportunity to link themselves in-depth with a sponsor and get millions of dollars in services/perks out of the relationship. If the Clippers wish to follow the trend of analytics, perhaps a technology corporation like Microsoft would be a suitable partner. On the other hand, perhaps the team would like to blaze a path and trend towards nutrition - how about Cliff bars for everyone? The opportunities are endless and it will be up to Steve Ballmer to decide.