This week, during The NBA Finals, Elevent, North America’s leading provider of sponsorship intelligence, unveiled groundbreaking new research into the value and effectiveness of NBA Jersey patch sponsorships.
This new study indicates that jersey patch sponsorships may not be as effective as expected for brand awareness.

While the data varies from team to team and patch sponsor to patch sponsor, only 26% of NBA fans can correctly identify the patch sponsor of their favorite team despite a reported average cost of $10.9 million per deal.


These patch performance findings are an important output of Elevent’s 2024 Sponsorship Performance survey, which includes responses from 2,494 NBA fans as part of a larger study of over 5,000 adults (methodology available below), providing detailed insights into consumer behavior and sponsorship effectiveness. The survey data shows that 77% of NBA fans follow games on TV, with just 21% following on social media. However, 43% of fans who follow teams on social media can correctly identify the patch sponsor compared to just 29% of those who follow on TV.

In fact, TV followers had the worst patch sponsor recall, tied at 29% with those who follow teams in the newspaper and trailing fans who follow teams on the radio (30%). Interestingly, brand recall via the patch increases for in-market fans, but only slightly (up just 3 pts to 29%), the more games fans watched and, in some cases, based on the length of the partnership.

By contrast, NBA fans have much higher sponsor name recall when it comes to stadium sponsorships, with 53% of respondents able to correctly identify the stadium name partner. Also a premium asset, stadium naming rights deals are more established, with some partnerships dating back to the 1990s, whereas jersey patch sponsorships were introduced in 2017.


Both jersey patch and stadium naming rights deal costs can vary widely based on teams and markets.

“The value of premium sponsorship assets is typically driven by impressions from TV viewership, but that is not the case with the NBA jersey patch, so brands may need to make additional investments in activation or other assets to reach this audience,” said Francis Dumais, Managing Partner of Elevent.

“In many ways, the outsized role of social media is not surprising: The jersey patch logo is tiny compared to other assets and attached to a moving target in the distance for TV and stadium viewers, whereas social media and online consumers are likely viewing still, close-up images of players. That said, until now, the industry didn’t have jersey patch performance data to work with, and we think brands might be surprised to learn that they are not getting the expected ‘bang-for-the-buck’ from TV viewers that they likely expected.”


To better understand the actual value of an NBA jersey patch, Elevent monitored the Sphere patch worn by the New York Knicks on both social media (images, videos, and mentions on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and X) and linear TV (local and national broadcasts) using Spot™, the company’s unique broadcast and social media tracking and analysis tool.

Elevent then aggregated and calculated the value to be more than $9.2M, with 73.6% of the value coming from social media to the tune of $6.8M.

Better Performance Measurement

While brand awareness is an important indicator of sponsorship performance, it’s not the only metric brands need to consider. The Elevent Sponsorship Performance survey also captures insights into consumers’ willingness to engage with brand sponsors. Compared to all +5,000 respondents, NBA fans are considerably more open to sponsor activation, with 63% of fans identifying as “open” compared to general population respondents at 47%, a 16-point advantage for NBA brand sponsors on an important measure of effectiveness.


Dumais concluded:

“With a better understanding of jersey patch sponsorship effectiveness and value, brands now have the data they need to evaluate how patch sponsorship fits into overall brand strategy, audience development, and activation. We suspect that, in many cases, a traditional visibility asset could perform much better at a fraction of the price, depending on sponsorship goals. Our ability to dig into the data and deliver actual performance metrics is one of the main reasons brands choose Elevent as they evaluate, select, measure, and manage high-dollar sponsorships.”


Methodology

Eleventh conducted an online survey of adult Americans (18 years of age and over), with 5,010 surveys completed in Q1 2024. The purpose of the Sponsorship Performance survey was to understand how sports sponsorships impact American consumers and to identify any changes or trends in consumer perspectives since the 2022 survey. The comprehensive survey included questions on a broad range of topics, including sports sponsorship impact, consumer willingness to engage with sports sponsors, a sport-by-sport comparison of consumer perspectives, and more.

A new component of the 2024 survey focused on consumer perspectives of the NBA jersey patch, as well as deeper dives into the NBA and NFL for team-level insights into sponsorship performance.


The results were weighted using Census Bureau data based on respondents’ age, gender, race, and region of residence, with a margin of error of ±2% (if the sample were based on probability, with a confidence level of 95%).

PHOTO: PR Owl Public Relations

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