Report: Uniform ads could generate millions

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When the Yankees opened in the 2004 season in Japan, their uniforms featured a Ricoh ad patch. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

From TV deals to concession prices to stadium promotions, baseball teams are in the business of making money. Over the past few years, with the onset of variable ticket pricing and all-inclusive stadium packages, clubs have boosted their bottom lines, and the game is booming. But a new report from Horizon Media says that teams could be doing more. Clubs could generate millions of dollars by doing what many consider to be the unthinkable: selling advertising space on team uniforms.

In essence, such a proposal would represent the NASCAR-ization of professional team sports. While logos are plastered over cars and tennis players are rewarded to wear certain labels on the court, baseball has resisted logo creep. Even New Era, the long-time cap provider, hasn’t been able to secure a place on its hats for a logo. But Horizon Media says this is a major missed opportunity, and the Yanks — the top team in the game in top media market in the country — could generate up to $13 million in revenue by selling uniform space.

The company spoke more about its methodology in a press release:

The report aggregates key jersey exposure attributes including; total duration, logo isolation status, logo size and the cost of a 30-second unit in each market. In addition, the report considered the number of detections (how many times a brand/sponsor can be viewed per game), measured duration (how long the brand/sponsor is visible at each detection) and assigned an attribute score (a relative measurement of performance based on the duration, size, isolation and source type) for each sport. This information then produced a media equivalency value – a dollar figure representing the advertising value of each team’s jersey.

According to the study, the Yanks’ TV exposure and ad rates lead to an opportunity to realize up to $13.8 million if advertisements were prominently displayed on uniforms during tv broadcasts. The findings, Horizon Media stressed, are somewhat preliminary, but the dollar figures are enticing. “Roughly two-thirds of all professional sports franchises were evaluated in this study to determine how much revenue could be generated if the leagues and team owners decided to sell the real estate on the front of their jerseys,” Michael A. Neuman, Horizon’s managing partner, said. “We think the findings more than convey the need for stakeholders to take this concept seriously.”

Of course, any proposal that calls for sullying uniforms would quickly be met by gasps from the game’s traditionalist gatekeepers. Perhaps, advertisements, already so prevalent in game broadcast, should stay clear of uniforms. Furthermore, if such an idea were to come to fruition, baseball would like consider these dollars to be, at least in part, a contribution to the revenue sharing pot because media market disparities would give a significant edge to the top teams. (The Marlins, for instance, would draw in just $1.3 million if their ad-filled uniforms had the same on-air exposure time as the Yanks.)

Ultimately, though, this idea is but a thought experiment. No sport has shown a willingness to head down this path, and such a move would indeed sully the purity of the game’s visual aspects. For the money, though, it might almost be worth it.

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  • mbonzo

    Yankees have stubbornly refused to put player names on the back of their uniforms, I can’t see them putting ads on them now. I could see other teams going this way though. Though he’s not in support of it, I wonder if Selig could enforce a rule to prevent teams from doing this.

    • whozat

      They should just leapfrog player names and put product names where the player names should be.

      ARod and Orville Redenbacher are a match made in heaven.

    • pat

      Tradition is stubborn?

  • steven

    no thank you this would ruin jerseys’ and make them look absolutely horrible

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      In the rest of the world (read: soccer), sponsored jerseys, which change sometimes annually (and sometimes > annually, e.g. different sponsors for home and away games) provide a whoooooole other reason for fans to buy jerseys year in and year out. And that of course generates revenues far beyond the sponsorships themselves.

      You may hate the look, but the results elsewhere and in other sports paint an extremely attractive picture that i think the current analysis vastly understates.

      Let me ask you this way. If selling uniform sponsorships netted the Yanks $50mm/year in incremental revenue to freely spend on the team, would you feel differently? Talk to ownership partners of Real Madrid and Man-U and it’s pretty easy to see why they do this.

      I’m sort of playing devil’s advocate bc on the whole I love the Yanks’ team first no name jersey look. But it’s an awful lot of dough…

  • SamVa

    And at the releasing of this data the Mets have subsequently changed their name to MetLife Insurance… After four months, the company has now gone bankrupt.

  • dr mrs the yankee

    Mussina looks like he is going to clock Torre in that picture, not really an uncommon thing I guess but amusing.

    Also I really hate Euro sports teams jerseys because of all the ads, I would be really sad if they started doing it over here. So busy and hideous.

    • Accent Shallow


  • Ben Shapiro

    The WNBA has actually done this, putting company logos on team uniforms. It looks ridiculous and I don’t think it would ever catch on in MLB.

    • YankeesJunkie

      Yeah, but there is a difference between MLB and WNBA such as people give a rat’s ass about one.

    • DCBX

      And this makes perfect sense for a league of athletes that are paid so little that they need off-season jobs. Do we really need to see John Hancawk Sawx jerseys and a Big Mac ad on Joba’s gut just so some setup guy can make another $1M per?

  • Rey22

    Thank god this wouldn’t fly in MLB. It’d be unpleasant and annoying to look at.

  • Beamish

    $13 million is not even 7% of the proposed 2011 salary – I cannot imagine them alienating the fan base and dismissing the “tradition” they market so well over what amounts to a pittance in their overall operating budget.

    If the Marlins or Royals could draw $13 million I could see them doing it – that is a nice bump in their bottom line, but as the article shows they only get a tenth the revenue the Yankees would. This is a complete non-starter until you start presenting 5-10 times the revenue potential.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      That’s the thing. It IS 5-10x the revenue potential. This study vastly under estimates the likely benefit to the Yanks (assuming its not shared in a pot). Think $50mm/year for starters. And there are numerous examples to cite around the world of culture-transcending teams who pull in numbers like this from these sponsorships AND the massive incremental sales revenues they bring (think: buying a new jersey every year or two to keep us with the look, vs buying a single, static 13 jersey today. Not possible? See: Real Madrid, Man-U, and many more).

      I don’t like it, but the numbers are super compelling.

  • Mike R

    I would never condone something like this. It’s scary because it is a very valid point, the moneys definitely there. however the idea of seeing advertisements on NFL or MLB teams jerseys really turns me off. In NASCAR its totally different because you’re sponsors are paying for your car. I would hate the idea there’s too many advertisements as it is. I love the fact that the Yankees refuse to even put names on their jersey. I’d definitely cringe at the site of the Pinstripes with a Home Depot add embroidered on the sleeve.

  • mko

    Hell no!

  • fire levine

    Please don’t

  • Urban

    Don’t see it happening. They’ve worn the same raditional pinstripes at home and road grays on the road for more than a century. They’ve never put names on the uniforms, and depsite the chance to probably make up to $50 million a year, they never sold the naming rights to Yankee Stadium. What makes anyone think the Yankees would put advertisements on their uniforms?

    • whozat

      Ultimately, though, this idea is but a thought experiment. No sport has shown a willingness to head down this path,

      No one thinks the Yanks are going to do this. It’s just interesting to see that someone has generated a meaningful model to project how much money teams could make if they did do this, and to know that a team like the marlins would generate 1/10 the revenue of the Yanks.

    • Brian in NH

      Actually up until the late 1930s the uniform varied quite a bit. Pinstipes, no stripes, the interlocking NY logo, pinstriped hats, road colors. All changed quite a bit until the 1930s

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for

        We Americans = bad at history.

  • Sayid J.

    I agree that it’s ugly, but I just find it interesting because, to my knowledge, this is a complete non-issue for European soccer teams and they reap the benefits of increased profits for their franchises.

    • Peter R

      I was going to say myself:

      “No sport has shown a willingness to head down this path, and such a move would indeed sully the purity of the game’s visual aspects”

      No American sport perhaps. In the UK (and most of Europe) there are sponsors splattered all over football (soccer) jerseys. I am sure there was an initial repulsion but now nobody even cares.

      I think we would get over it and if it would allow the Yankees to drop another $13 million on payroll or the Rays to keep Carl Crawford around I am all for it.

  • Kiko Jones

    As someone who follows a team in the Dominican Winter League and watches the Caribbean World Series, I tell you uniform ads are an ugly sight to behold. (If I recall correctly, the Venezuelan and Mexican teams’ uniforms particularly resemble NASCAR.) Ugh.

  • HulkHeyman

    ummm, no.

  • Pete C.

    All I can think of is, my mom saying to me, “just because can do something doesn’t men you should.”

  • BrianM

    I don’t want baseball teams to start getting shirt sponsors but it it is wrong to suggest that no sports have gone this route.

    Soccer teams all have shirt sponsors. Aon are paying £80M to Manchester Utd for 4 years as the shirt sponsors. That is $32M per year, and they don’t play nearly as many games per season as baseball teams.

    It is the number of hours of TV time, and the photos in the papers which make these deals worth it for the sponsors. $13M for the Yankees sounds very, very low to me.

    • Jim in Bingo

      The comparison re Utd is more complicated. While Utd probably play a bit less than 1/3 the games the Yankees play (factoring in cup competitions), they probably draw more tv viewers over all, given the worldwide audience for the Prem and the Champion’s League.

      And I suspect their jersey sales are well beyond Yankees’ sales given the football supporter culture where everyone buys the jersey it seems.

  • Sean C

    Weird. I always assumed wearing a pinstriped jersey was enough.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Newsflash: Yanks announce new “RIVERAveBlues” patch on sleeves taken from the banner above.

    RABbi’s unavailable for comment.

  • NJYankeeFan

    The Yankees won’t even sell naming rights to their stadium so I don’t think we’ll ever see advertising patches on the uniforms anytime this decade.

  • Michael

    What is missing in this article is the lost revenue the game would experience from smaller jersey sales at games and online. I for one would never buy a jersey that is plastered with advertisements. Granted I do not know what they mean by selling ad space, be it like they do in Soccer in Europe or like Nascar. Either way I can only imagine a decline in jersey sales due to unsightly company ads placed on the jersey that would knock these figures down a peg or two.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      To the contrary, at least if we go by the only real world example we can look at. Fans of Real Madrid, Man-U, and the like, not only buy team jerseys at insane rates, they have added incentive to get a new one frequently. sometimes each year as sponsors change.

      Add in the fact that the Yankees, like the Bulls during the Jordan era, or Real Madrid now, have culturally transcended the sport (the anecdote being the lost Amazon tribe that nonetheless sport Jeter jerseys) and I think the potential for not only sponsorship dollars but actual sales-derived revenues is absolutely humongous.

      I’d guess $50mm/year based on conversations I’ve had with a Real Madrid ownership partner…

      You may not want one, but you >< equal the rest of the world, judging by the only example we have.

  • jsbrendog (returns)


  • Brian in NH

    I am against it. I got a AC Milan Ronaldinho jersey as a gift one year. People ask me what team “bwin” is because tahts what is plastered across the front with a small AC Milan shield on the left breast.

  • Angryankee

    What a terrible thought…

  • Yank the Frank

    Thye will end up looking like Nascar drivers.

  • Brett

    I don’t think its so bad. After watching your favourite team for so long, it becomes a part of their history.
    Im only speaking from a European soccer point of view, but im sure most fans of Manchester United or Liverpool remember the days of Sharp, Carlsberg, Candy, AIG and the history surrounding that period. (Okay, maybe not AIG). And I’m sure a lot of people buy new shirts just because their old shirt has a new sponsor.

    • Brett

      Stuffed up that last line

      And Im sure alot of people buy new shirts because their old shirt has an old sponsor.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for

        This. I mentioned this in a couple responses above. Fans have incentive to get new jerseys often, sometimes annually, as sponsors and “the look” changes. Whereas now, once you have your 13 jersey, you’re pretty much done.

        The revenue potential from this is massive and grossly understated by this analysis IMO. It may feel (and be!) distasteful, but the dollars are compelling.

        • Brian in NH

          thats what makes it so distateful. Why must everything be sullied by dollars?

  • Accent Shallow

    Imagine the revenue that could be generated if ads for summer blockbusters were on the bases!

  • Opus

    Not completely spot on with the topic, but if the “football” in NFL was the international definition of the word:

    • Joseph Cecala

      Some of those are really cool

  • RobC

    I dont like it

    But just a thought, how would people feel about it is the revenue allowed them to sign a top FA such as Lee or Pujols or the money was saved by the team to neutralize the cost of a player who declines at the end of a long term contract?

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      Exactly. I believe the study vastly understates the benefit of this to a team like the Yanks. I’ll guess $50mm/year. Take the payroll to $275mm? No sweat. Pujols as the DH…

  • MannyGee

    this feels more like a Diamondbacks/Royals/Pirates move. or that other small market team from Boston… they are gritty enough to pull off a “Jiffy Lube” logo on the front of their unis…

    I don’t love the idea, especially for the little bit of money it would produce for the Yankees, however if George was stil alive he would have the Utz Potato Chips guys on the line as we speak…

  • chris

    The money should not be part of revenue sharing at all. If a company was smart they would advertise with say the Blue Jays and get massive exposure 18 times a year when they play in New York. The “worth” of advertising can’t be measured. Only what someone would pay to put a name on a jersey.

  • BavarianYankee

    Could the Yankees really “only” get about $14 million? I’m from Germany as some of you guys know and over here it’s normal that football (soccer) teams have ads on the jersey. I’m a Bayern Munich fan and so I know that they earn about 25€ million per season (about $34 million) with their uniform ad and I’d think the Yankees should be able to get at least something in that area. Not to forget the Yankees play a lot more games, baseball games last longer and the ads could be seen way better by the tv viewers than in a sport like football.

    I think uniform ads suck and the MLB shouldn’t allow them but over here in Europe we have to live with that shit.

    • Rafael

      That’s is what I was thinking.

      I’m from Brazil and the top teams don’t get less than U$30 million/year. They play all year around but MLB play everiday, so I think that 13 million is ridiculous for a team like the Yankees.

      Anyway, I’m completely against it.

      • I am not the droids you’re looking for

        Yup. As i posted in a few responses above this study vastly understates the likely financial benefit to the Yanks. I’d guess $50mm/year as a starting point.

        I don’t like it, but the numbers are compelling.

  • Benjamin Kabak

    I’m not saying I’m advocating for this but to clear up a point: This isn’t a “Yankees-only” idea. If MLB implemented it, every team would be carrying ads, and the money would likely go to a central pot with a graded distribution scheme. They could still sell ad-free jerseys for the public.

    That said, it’s unlikely to happen, but this is just food for thought.

  • BobbyRay

    No one cares about soccer and the WNBA, that’s why they do it. This idea will never migrate to the top 4, MLB, NHL, NFL, and the NBA.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      3 billion people are line 1 for you, waiting to discuss your assertion about soccer..

  • MattH

    The Yankees actually pay NOT to have the Majestic logo on their jerseys. Can’t see them doing this even if MLB allowed it. Bad idea all around.

  • Dave

    So what if the European pansies and their lady-sport ‘soccer’ whore their jerseys out to the vast conglomerates, that doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. Baseball is already bad enough, with only a handful of players who actually know how to dress like a ball player, putting ads on the unis would just be a f.cking eyesore!

  • Jake

    This is probably an attractive idea to the smaller market teams, but I can’t see the Yankees willing to tarnish their uniforms for 13 million. That’s a drop in the bucket when you look at their annual revenues.

  • Douglas

    Then we can be just like european pro sports where the look of the uniform is determined by the sponsor for that cycle.

    This should never be done, though I would enjoy the yankees sullying their history for what is essentially walking around money (to them).

  • Diggerjohn111

    I am a very big fan of sports, baseball and hockey especially. When you watch hockey games from Europe, there are so many ads on their sweaters, breezers and even socks you have a difficult time telling who plays on which team. One of the greatest aspects of the “Big Four” sports in North America is the lack of advertising on the uniforms. If you allow a Budweiser patch one season it is a slippery slope until the players are walking billboards, and a large part of the beauty of the game is lost forever.