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NBA Referees Debut Emirates Patches
- Updated: February 8, 2024
In a significant development, NBA referees will debut sponsored patches on their jerseys, following in the footsteps of NBA players who have been wearing sponsored patches for over six years. The introduction of these patches will commence at the upcoming All-Star Game on February 18th, with NBA officials sporting Emirates Airlines patches just below the NBA logo on the left chest.
The announcement, made by the league, marks a milestone as NBA referees join players in showcasing sponsored patches, signaling a new era in sports advertising. The inclusion of Emirates Airlines patches on referee shirts coincides with the NBA’s partnership with the Dubai-based airline, solidifying Emirates as the league’s global airline partner through a multiyear deal.
Notably, G League referees are set to follow suit, with plans to incorporate sponsored patches at the onset of the 2024-25 season. Additionally, WNBA officials will join the initiative, slated to debut the patches during the league’s 2025 season, further expanding the presence of sponsored advertising across various basketball platforms.
The introduction of sponsored patches on referee uniforms aligns with broader trends in sports marketing, with jerseys serving as valuable advertising space. While NBA players began wearing sponsored patches during the 2017-18 season, the inclusion of referees in this endorsement rollout reflects the evolving landscape of sports sponsorship.
Emirates’ partnership with the NBA extends beyond jersey patches, as the airline will also sponsor the NBA in-season tournament, which will be rebranded as the Emirates NBA Cup. This collaboration underscores the global reach and appeal of the NBA, as well as the attractiveness of the league’s platforms for international brands seeking to engage with diverse audiences.
The decision to incorporate sponsored patches on referee uniforms comes at a time when NBA viewership is on the rise, particularly across major networks. With referees increasingly visible on television screens, particularly during coach’s challenges and replay reviews, the introduction of sponsored patches presents an opportunity for brands to enhance their visibility and reach a captive audience of basketball fans.
The prevalence of coach’s challenges has increased in recent years, with stakeholders voting to allow teams a third challenge if successful with their first two attempts. This uptick in challenges has led to heightened exposure for referees, as television cameras capture their deliberations and rulings during in-game reviews.
During the current 2023-24 regular season, referees have already reviewed a total of 765 coach’s challenges, indicating a significant increase compared to previous seasons. This surge in reviews underscores the importance of referees in the game’s decision-making process and highlights the potential impact of sponsored patches in amplifying brand exposure during televised broadcasts.
In summary, the introduction of sponsored patches on NBA referee uniforms marks a significant milestone in sports advertising, reflecting the league’s ongoing efforts to maximize revenue opportunities and engage with commercial partners. As referees join players in showcasing sponsored branding, the NBA continues to innovate in the realm of sports marketing, leveraging its global appeal to attract prominent international brands like Emirates Airlines.
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By- Sahiba Suri