Nike, MLB Reportedly Agree To Uniform Rights Deal Beginning In '20
Nike and MLB have a "verbal agreement to take over on-field uniform rights, which will put the swoosh on MLB jerseys" beginning with the '20 season, according to sources cited by Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal is "expected to be completed and signed before the end of this season." Sources said that it is an "agreement for 10 years" and "will follow the blueprint of Nike’s recently extended and realigned NFL rights." That deal has Nike "directly servicing teams’ apparel needs, with Fanatics being granted comprehensive rights for all Nike-branded jerseys and fanwear sold at retail." The pending baseball deal means Nike’s trademark will be "emblazoned across NBA, NFL and MLB uniforms" by '20 -- an "unprecedented land grab across American pro sports." Nike has "around half of MLB players on its roster of endorsers, and its swoosh-emblazoned 'underlayer' shirts have given the company unique branding on MLB fields." In late '16, MLB signed Under Armour to a 10-year, $50M-a-year deal for those "same on-field rights, but since then, UA’s market cap has declined precipitously" from $11.03B to $9.26B. UA’s exit from what was to be its "first significant on-field branding play in the major stick-and-ball pro sports is the latest in an unwinding of rights deals over the past few years, after a period of heavy spending" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/23 issue).