With increasingly rare sponsorship space available as teams add to their partner rosters season after season, brands and rights-holders are always looking for the next big trend to maximize value and exposure. For MLB this year it’s jersey patches.
In the latest collective bargaining agreement MLB agreed to allow teams to sell sponsor logo placement on uniforms. The new jersey real estate follows the lead of the NHL, who followed the lead of the NBA, who followed the lead of MLS, who followed the lead of international football. While the NHL’s jersey ads just started in 2021, the NBA started selling the chest placement for the 2017/2018 season. Since then, it’s been wildly successful for the basketball league with 26 of the 30 teams currently sporting a brand logo.
MLB opted for sleeve placement, an optimal spot given batters’ and pitchers’ stances. Despite the big new opportunity for teams and brands, only seven of 30 teams sold the jersey patch placement before the start of the 2023 season. Beyond visibility in traditional game broadcasts, looking at last year’s social stats we can get an idea of what kind of exposure these teams are offering their new brand partners through social media.
Social media data is based on team Twitter, Instagram and Facebook content during the 2022 regular season, 4/7/22 – 10/5/22. Social value is calculated based on impressions, engagements and video views using industry standard CPM, CPE and CPV values. Follower count is combined Twitter, Instagram and Facebook followers as of 4/13/22 or day of announcement for teams in-season.
San Diego Padres: Motorola
2022 Season Social Value: $16,585,614 | 2022 Season Impressions 573,945,605 | Total Followers: 2,512,687
The San Diego Padres were the first to jump at the new opportunity, inking a deal with Motorola in April of 2022 that’s reportedly $10 million annually. Since then, the Padres have added even more talent, like superstar Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts. Players like Soto are likely to receive national MLB and sports media coverage on social and TV, boosting the value of the deal for Motorola even more.
With these new names and the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. from suspension, expect Padres social numbers, and as a result exposure for partners like Motorola, to go up as they challenge the NL West-dominating Dodgers this season.
Red Sox: MassMutual
2022 Season Social Value: $25,550,336 | 2022 Season Impressions: 1,060,748,551 | Total Followers: 9,482,828
In November a major market team took advantage of the jersey patch sponsor placement. In a 10-year deal reportedly worth $17 million a year, the Boston Red Sox sold a spot on their iconic uniforms to MassMutual, a Massachusetts-based insurance company.
The Red Sox jersey patch sale was important for establishing the market value for big-name teams in the league. Red Sox social media alone surpassed 1 billion impressions last season. Other storied franchises with comparable fan base sizes, like the Yankees and Cubs, will undoubtedly reference the Red Sox deal if/when they sign a jersey patch partner.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Avnet
2022 Season Social Value: $4,957,986 | 2022 Season Impressions: 205,712,335 | Total Followers: 1,840,048
We are proud to announce @Avnet as our first official Jersey Patch Partner! Please join us in welcoming Avnet to the #Dbacks family! We look forward to welcoming your employees at Chase Field and working together to make an even stronger impact in our community. pic.twitter.com/JzZVfzRq2d— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) February 2, 2023
Arizona also went local, adding Avnet to their sleeves for 2023 and beyond. The Arizona-based global tech company will be a brand new partner for the Diamondbacks. Although they have less followers and viewers on social media and broadcast compared to teams like the Padres and Red Sox, maximizing sponsorship opportunities is key for clubs like the Diamondbacks, and taking advantage of the jersey patch is one way to do that.
Los Angeles Angels: FBM
2022 Season Social Value: $21,458,010 | 2022 Season Impressions: 708,682,453 | Total Followers: 3,923,098
The Angels announced the addition of Foundation Building Materials (FBM) to their uniforms just before pitchers and catchers reported. Also going local, FBM will be featured on a team with two of the best players in the game: Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani’s celebrity grew even bigger after a championship run with Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
Imagery of these big stars in uniform extends exposure for a sponsor like FBM beyond the Angels media channels, which already boasts impressive numbers. The Angels social media generated more than 708M impressions last season and had the most follower growth this offseason, so expect even larger social numbers in 2023.
Cincinnati Reds: Kroger
2022 Season Social Value: $10,867,189 | 2022 Season Impressions: 408,822,835 | Total Followers: 2,748,034
In the NL Central, the Reds signed a reported $5 million/year partnership with Kroger shortly before Spring Training. Working with the Cincinnati-based grocery chain, the Reds followed the lead of other teams that partnered with locally relevant brands. Kroger was already a longtime sponsor of the Reds, so this jersey patch builds on that preexisting relationship for additional exposure.
Houston Astros: Oxy Energy
2022 Season Social Value: $32,161,246 | 2022 Season Impressions: 1,187,354,232 | Total Followers: 4,804,857
The reigning World Series champions also stuck with an existing, locally based sponsor for their jersey patch, formally announcing a 7-year deal with Oxy Energy in February.
Even before their World Series win, the Astros racked up $32 million dollars of social value in the 2022 regular season alone. With six straight playoffs appearances that all made it to at least the ALCS, the Astros are a solid bet for a brand looking to work with a team that will likely make the playoffs, providing additional October exposure to their fan base and nationally.
Miami Marlins: ADT
2022 Season Social Value: $2,874,192 | 2022 Season Impressions: 121,291,585 | Total Followers: 1,718,238
Making history alongside @ADT 🤝— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) March 29, 2023
Introducing the Official Smart Security Partner and Official Solar Energy Partner of the Miami Marlins. ADT becomes our first official jersey patch partner, with the company’s iconic blue octagon. #SafeAtHome pic.twitter.com/ZkQSm4aRzE
The Miami Marlins were the last team to sign a jersey patch sponsor before the season started, unveiling the addition of ADT to their uniforms right before Opening Day. Based in South Florida, the estimated $5M-a-year deal with the home security company once again went regional, clearly trend for the jersey patches thus far.
A team looking toward the future, the Marlins enter the season with the current NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara as their ace. ADT’s multi-year agreement gets them in on the ground floor with a team aiming to boost their performance and profile in the next few years.
New York Mets: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
2022 Season Social Value: $22,977,541 | 2022 Season Impressions: 830,988,231 | Total Followers: 4,264,615
The Mets unveiled their NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital jersey patch for their home opener at Citi Field, shortly after the regular season started. After receiving some feedback from fans, owner Steve Cohen said the team plans to change the red-and-white patch to match the Mets colors better.
The expansive New York City hospital network is a new sponsor for the Mets, who once again have high expectations for 2023. With a roster that includes major MLB stars like Max Scherzer and a passionate fan base with high hopes for the the season and postseason, the Mets will likely be a big story in New York City and beyond.
St. Louis Cardinals: Stifel
2022 Season Social Value: $30,657,900 | 2022 Season Impressions: 1,035,599,346 | Total Followers: 4,758,957
A month into the season the St. Louis Cardinals unveiled St. Louis-based wealth management and investment firm Stifel as their jersey patch partner. Although their geographic market is considered small to mid-sized, the Cardinals consistently boast strong attendance, viewership and social media numbers, maximizing exposure for their partners.
Last regular season they were one of just seven MLB teams to earn over one billion projected impressions on social media and ranked 5th for total social value across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Beyond social, they ranked 2nd for ballpark attendance and 1st for local TV ratings across all of MLB last season.
atlanta Braves: QUIKRETE
2022 Season Social Value: $35,371,356| 2022 Season Impressions 1,260,602,450 | Total Followers: 5,702,258
Another midseason addition, the Braves named Atlanta-based cement manufacturer QUIKRETE as their jersey patch partner. The Atlanta Braves have been incredibly successful in recent years, making five straight playoffs and winning the World Series in 2021. Striking a five-year deal, QUIKRETE’s investing in a franchise with proven sustained success.
On social media the Braves had the third most impressions of any MLB team last season, not including the playoffs. This season they’ve steadily led their division and as of the All-Star break their biggest star Ronald Acuna Jr. is the top-selling jersey for all of MLB.
Detroit Tigers: Meijer
2022 Season Social Value: $12,889,812 | 2022 Season Impressions: 511,132,150 | Total Followers: 4,464,162
A couple of months into the season the Detroit Tigers announced grocery chain Meijer, another iconic Michigan brand, would be their official jersey patch partner. Unlike many other partnerships, Meijer agreed to change their logo color to match the Tigers home and away uniforms.
This expansion of their relationship with Meijer follows the trend of working with a company located in the area, and partnering with a familiar consumer brand like Meijer is more likely to immediately resonate with local fans.
Cleveland Guardians: Marathon
2022 Season Social Value: $8,676,244 | 2022 Season Impressions: 338,426,318 | Total Followers: 3,018,012
The Cleveland Guardians chose Marathon as their jersey patch partner, debuting the gas station retailer’s patch the week of 4th of July festivities. The team officially rebranded as the Guardians last year, making Marathon part of their new look relatively early.
The Guardians won the AL Central handily just last season and feature some top talent like Cy Young winner Shane Bieber, who will now be showcasing Marathon’s logo every time he takes the mound.
New York Yankees: Starr Insurance
2022 Season Social Value: $69,836,864 | 2022 Season Impressions: 2,574,664,187 | Total Followers: 15,016,422
In what’s predicted to be the biggest jersey patch deal for Major League Baseball (rumored to be around $25 million annually), at the All-Star Break the New York Yankees officially announced Starr Insurance would be on their jersey sleeves for the remainder of the season and through 2031.
As the biggest brand in baseball, the Bronx Bombers have the largest social media following across all MLB teams. Last season the Yankees were once again the #1 MLB team on social media for impressions, engagements and social value, earning over 2 billion impressions and $69 million in social value. On top of these social numbers, the world-famous Yankees have high attendance, an engaged audience on YES Network, more national broadcast opportunities than most MLB clubs and players like Aaron Judge frequently appearing in national media.
Toronto Blue Jays: TD Canada
The lone Canadian MLB team added TD to their jerseys as the second half of the season got underway. As the only team up north, the Blue Jays have a pretty strong monopoly of the Canadian market and finished the 2022 season as a top ten team for all major social media metrics. They were one of seven teams that had over 1 billion projected impressions.
As for other sponsor exposure avenues, post-pandemic attendance and viewership were both up last year for the Blue Jays. They also generate plenty of storylines with their roster, which has three sons of previous major leaguers: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. One of the league’s young stars, Guerrero Jr. just won the 2023 Home Run Derby and continues to be a focus of national media attention.
The fourteen teams currently sporting jersey patch sponsors cover a range of market sizes and on-field success levels, which will provide key insights into the potential value and exposure of the MLB jersey patch. With play well underway, it will be interesting to see how any more MLB teams will add jersey patch sponsors this season and in 2024.
Photo Credit: @Marlins Twitter