Looking beyond 2021, fresh YouGov research shows how American sports fans would feel about sponsorship logos appearing across the center chest of player jerseys. This is perhaps one of the most lucrative pieces of real estate left in North American sports.
The highest rate of outright support for a front-of-jersey sponsorship is to be found among NBA fans – 25% of them think it would be appropriate. And while a further 20% could be persuaded given the right sponsor, that still leaves a majority (51%) of basketball fans who think it would be inappropriate for the sport’s stars to hit the court with a center-jersey patch.
These figures come after the NBA added advertisement patches on the left shoulder in 2017 in an effort to boost revenue for the league and its teams.
Major League Baseball (MLB) is also seriously eyeing similar logo placement, looking at both uniform patches and helmet decals for upcoming seasons.
If the league were to go beyond that, a little more than two in five (44%) MLB fans either think a full-size chest sponsor on player uniforms would be entirely appropriate (17%) or appropriate depending on what company were to buy up the space (27%).
Looking at the National Football League (NFL), only about a third of its fans (34%) think such a sponsorship move would be appropriate (18%) or would be if the brand was a good fit (16%).
Of all the fanbases we looked at, fans of the National Hockey League (NHL) are the least likely to think a center chest sponsor on player jerseys would be appropriate. One in five (20%) say it would be, while 12% say it would depend on the company. Two-thirds (66%) say it would be inappropriate. Meanwhile, the NHL started selling ad space on player helmets for its 2021 season and sold naming rights to its four divisions: Scotia NHL North Division, Honda NHL West Division, Discover NHL Central Division and the MassMutual NHL East Division.
Of course, full-size logos on uniform chests is widespread practice among European football, hockey and other sports, and Major League Soccer (MLS) in the US has normalized kit sponsorship stateside.
The WNBA in the US has also embraced the full-size jersey logos across most teams since 2011.
Methodology: Results are based a YouGov poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans. Interviews took place on January 11, 2021 between 1:34 p.m. and 2:02 p.m. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. The margin of error is 3.7% for the overall sample. Filtered sample sizes were 680 MLB fans, 212 NHL fans, 255 NBA fans and 450 NFL fans. Fans are defined as those respondents who indicated they are “somewhat interested” in a league or it’s “one of my top interests.”