The lack of fans in stands across stadiums and arenas across North America presented teams and brands with a challenge of how to most effectively reach as many fans as possible without the luxury of having fans in venue. With this challenge came the opportunity to come up with new inventory and push social and digital harder than ever. Arguably the most notable and universal addition to venues across the big four leagues was seat cover branding.
received the bulk of the media coverage around this new asset since it
represented an opportunity for brands to have significant presence around the
field, a rarity in the NFL. While the NFL’s introduction of seat cover
branding may have been talked about more than the other leagues’ implementation
of the new asset, SBJ Atlas took an objective look at the data to identify how
each league stacked up.
with the simplest metric – the number of teams taking advantage
of seat-cover signage – we found that a majority of teams across each of the
big four leagues took advantage of this new inventory:
- In the NFL, all 32
teams jumped at the opportunity to feature their corporate partners
- The MLB similarly had widespread
usage tarp signage with 29 of 30 teams featuring it – the
Colorado Rockies were the lone exception. The more unique and
varied designs of MLB parks led to varying degrees of effectiveness, and it
remains to be seen how prominently it will be featured in the new season given
varying regulations on capacity limits across the country.
- So far
this season, the NHL is at 27 of 31 teams while the NBA is at just 22 of 30
teams featuring partners on seat covers. While in some cases this is
impacted by the presence of fans or the inclusion of large video boards — as
seen in the NBA’s Orlando Bubble — in other cases, there are
seat covers that teams have elected to brand with team logos rather than
feature corporate partners.
Digging into the data behind the partnerships and
observing which brands struck these types of deals highlights a
few interesting takeaways.
instance, the NFL, with 43.1% of all seat cover opportunities sold to new
partners, clearly utilized the asset most heavily with
brands lining up for the first true opportunity for significant inventory
within close proximity to the field. The popularity of the
inventory combined with fewer opportunities for
make-good advertising and the size of NFL stadiums led to teams
averaging 14 seat-cover partners.
- With limited fans in attendance and
less real estate across their respective arenas, NBA and NHL teams have
averaged the fewest seat-cover partners per team.
- Financial services have dominated
the inventory. But despite being a leading category
in three of the four leagues, no individual brand had more than five
deals, which helps demonstrate the
regional nature of many of these contracts.
- Gatorade, in part because of
league-level relationships, led all brands with 29 seat-cover partnerships
across the four leagues. Other top brands included Ford, Toyota, Verizon, and
Blue Cross Blue Shield.