Friday, October 26, 2012

NBA: No Ads. For Now.

We now have multiple reports that the NBA has shelved its plan to sell ad space on team jerseys, a plan that many of us rightly see as the tip of the camel's nose under the tent.

Paul Lukas explains it in this Q&A at Uni Watch:
Does this mean the uni advertising initiative is officially dead?
No. According to Darren Rovell’s story, linked in the first graf, the owners "put off" or "tabled" the program because "they needed more time to study it." So the whole thing could be revived later on.

When will that be?
There’s no indication of that so far.

The plan was originally supposed to go into effect next season — a year from now. Could that still happen?
I doubt it. The final vote to approve the plan was originally supposed to take place in September. We’re now about to enter November, and the additional time to “study” the plan will likely push things into the new year. Even if they worked out the kinks by early 2013, I don’t think they’d have enough time to implement the plan by the start of the 2013-14 season. For one thing, it was widely reported a few months ago that the ad patches would go where the NBA logo is now positioned, which would force them to move the NBA logo to the rear neckline (like on MLB jerseys). That may seem like a small change, but it actually has implications that ripple throughout the uni-supply pipeline, from manufacturing to retail. And as you know, uniform changes, even small ones, need to be set up well in advance. I just don’t see them getting their shit together in time to launch this initiative next season.

What about the season after that?
That makes more sense. Stern, who opposes uniform advertising (but said he wouldn’t "stand in the way of it"), will officially step down in February of 2014. His replacement, Adam Silver, is the guy who was directing the uni advertising program, so that should tell you the scent in the wind. If they choose to go ahead with this plan, it would seem plausible for them to get started at the outset of the 2014-15 season — Silver’s first full season as commissioner. It would be a strong way for him to put his personal stamp on the league, to show that he’s not Stern.

But again, that’s if the owners resolve their differences and concerns and decide they want to go ahead with it. As Rovell and I have both reported, they’ve hit some speed bumps, and it’s not yet clear how, or if, they’ll deal with them.

Rovell’s article says they were worried about endorsement conflicts, but last week you said the big problem was that the owners couldn’t agree on how to divvy up the cash. Who’s right?

I suspect we’re both right. The two claims certainly aren’t mutually exclusive.
Regardless of the "why", this is a victory. Let's just hope it's not a temporary one.

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