In today's sports world, teams are always searching for new methods with which to gain those all important advertising dollars. On the other side of things, their clients are always searching for new ways to get the most money out of their sponsorships. MSG Network, which broadcasts New York Ranger games and is a sibling company of the team (both owned by New York cable giant Cablevision), debuted a new kind of advertisement on their broadcast last night.
Those of you who are baseball fans have seen this many times. Now, instead of having a physical advertisement on the wall behind home plate at the ballpark, there is a graphic added into the television broadcast where the physical ad used to be. MSG pulled a similar feat last night when they included an ad for the restaurant chain Subway on the glass behind the Rangers' net.
This morning, bloggers over at Broad Street Hockey and Capitals Kremlin are skeptical of the new advertising technique. Both wonder if this is the first step on a slippery slope towards excessive advertising. They fear the end result may be similar to what is seen in Europe, where jerseys and helmets have sponsor's logos all over them and the ice is filled with ads. That's a strong contrast to most American professional sports leagues, where the jerseys are almost sacred. Chances are that we will live to see at least one team experiment with a big company logo next to their crest. However, I'm not so sure that this is the first step in that process. That first step was taken a long time ago.
Economically speaking, ads like the one seen on MSG last night or anywhere else for that matter are beneficial to the company selling them. More advertising dollars means teams can pay more money to free agents or simply increase their bottom line. (I'm looking at you, Phoenix.)
At first glance, the ad last night on MSG seems awkward and out of place, and I'm sure the fans sitting behind the net are glad that it's only visible on television so they don't have to look through it. But whether or not this type of ad succeeds and becomes a regular fixture depends on two parties: advertisers and fans.
If advertisers are willing to pay good money for it, you can bet that it could be here to stay. The only thing that might derail that would be negative public opinion, to the point where it could actually be a detriment to the company paying for the ad. For example, imagine a company paying to put their logo on a Habs jersey. That would be the end of their financial life in Eastern Canada (and, heck, it might cause some riots).
In this case, I don't think we're going to see a whole lot of negative opinion. But if Ranger fans -- the crash test dummies in this case -- don't like it, it may not stay. Otherwise, who knows? We could see this type of ad everywhere in five years.
After all, didn't the boards used to be blank?