StubHub, 76ers Reveal Uniform Ads

StubHub and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers unveiled May 15 the first sponsorship logos on player uniforms among American major league sports teams. 

While nobody will mistake, say, Elton Brand for Kevin Harvick in terms of uniform “signage,” it is a step in somewhat uncharted territory. Nike provides uniforms and equipment to many professional and amateur (including college) teams across sports, and the company’s signature “swoosh” may seem ubiquitous – but the difference, to split hairs, is that Nike is an apparel provider, with apparel deals, and the NBA is selling space on the apparel in blocks of 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.

StubHub’s patch will appear on not just the ’Sixers unis when the team takes the court. It will reportedly also be on uniform jerseys sold to fans in the merch stores. And it will be the only one, even if other brands decide they’d like to advertise on uniforms. At least for now, StubHub is the only advertiser you’ll see on a uniform patch in Philadelphia. The deal is part of a three-year trial run by the NBA that begins at the start of the 2017-18 season. For now, but perhaps not for long, the 76ers and StubHub have the NBA’s only such deal.

It should be noted that the WNBA has allowed teams to sell uniform ad patches since 2009. And the NBA has already taken the plunge – Kia was allowed to advertise on 2016 All-Star game jerseys. While there is no indication that major league baseball, football or hockey is about to dive into the ad patch revenue pool just yet, it could just be a matter of time.

“I’ve always been jealous of the English Premier League teams,” 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil said. “For some reason, the big four sports in North America have not. I think it’s an unbelievable opportunity. I think there’s a push to figure out new sources of revenue and the NBA seems to be a leader in that,” he added.

“Experience is the new currency and we want to be part of that experience economy,” StubHub President Scott Cutler told Pollstar. “That requires us to have our brand closer to the 76er fan, on an emotive level. They are the same fans that are going to see ‘Hamilton,’ or Beyoncé or Drake – they have a lot of relationships.

“You will have the opportunity with every team, so you will see teams associated with brands. Where we are going is aligned with expanding our business globally, in a highly personalized way,” Cutler said, promising that other “alignments” will be revealed in the coming weeks.