The San Diego Padres have announced an agreement with Motorola to be the first official MLB jersey partner, for an estimated $10 million per year. The deal includes other on-site partnerships, including presenting partner of the Padres Hall of Fame. The jersey patches will go in effect for the 2023 season.
As part of the latest collective bargaining agreement between the owners and Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA), it was agreed that teams could seek sponsors to include a patch on the left or right shoulder of their jersey. It is estimated that the uniform patches could net the MLB more than the average $8 million per year National Basketball Association (NBA) teams are netting for their uniform patches. The 4” x 4” patches are larger than those in other sports leagues, such as the NBA’s 2.5” x 2.5” patches. All patches must be approved by MLB, and certain brand categories – such as alcohol, gambling, and media companies – are not permitted.
Chicago-based Motorola is no stranger to sports franchise partnerships, also having deals with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers and Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Chicago Fire. MLB provides a unique value proposition, however. With a longer season and more games than other professional sports leagues, there are more overall opportunities for impressions. MLB features nationally televised games on a variety of platforms, including Fox Sports, ESPN, Apple TV+, Peacock, and YouTube, as well as regional networks for each team—giving it a broad reach across the United States and internationally.
The nature of the game itself also makes it suitable for uniform patches. For advertising, MLB’s notoriously slow pace of play is actually an advantage, as it introduces plenty of opportunities for the uniform patch to be visible during pauses in action and close-ups on pitchers and batters who are largely standing still.
MLB, which has the oldest fan base among the major sports leagues in the United States, may be a good fit to help Motorola reach older audiences. MLB’s strongest demographic – age 55-65 – is a bit of a soft spot in the brand’s appeal. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, only 16% of Motorola users are in the 55-65 age bracket, compared with 21% of all cell phone users and 27% of MLB followers.
Motorola also may be hoping to leverage San Diego’s young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., whose jersey was the #2 top selling jersey in MLB in 2021, to help their nearly non-existent reach among those 18-24 (only 2% of Motorola users are 18-24). The uniform patches will also be included on authentic jersey replicas sold through team stores, which could provide an additional long-lasting benefit.