Since 2015, Adidas has gone from 11 teams to 15, while Under Armour has grown from 6 to 12.
Writer: Carly Terwilliger
As basketball fans prepare to kick off March Madness today, there’s another battle being waged just below the tournament’s surface.
Official apparel partners for the competing teams gain major exposure as their teams move through the bracket, and for years one brand has gained the most – Nike. But the swoosh is seeing its stranglehold on team sponsorships slip in recent years, with Adidas and Under Armour emerging as the primary challengers.
For 2017, Nike will still appear on the uniforms of an impressive 40 teams, but that’s down from 48 two years ago, according to Apex Marketing Group. In the same time period, Adidas has gone from 11 teams to 15, while Under Armour has grown from 6 to 12.
It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much these brands stand to gain during March Madness. What’s clear is that some tournament players will be headed for the NBA, and they might look for opportunities with brands they’re already familiar with. In the meantime, there is merchandise to be sold and vicarious glory to bask in when the winning team is splashed across media channels wearing their Nike, Adidas or Under Armour gear.
If history is any guide, that honor still has a decent chance of going to Nike – it’s sponsored nearly 80 percent of the final four men’s and women’s teams in the last decade, including all four for both tournaments in 2016.
Photo courtesy Adidas