The NBA held a glitzy press event last week in Los Angeles to show off new team apparel for the upcoming basketball season. The star wasn’t the retooled jersey designs from Nike, hooded warmup jacket or even any of the 30 players who showed up to model.
It was the tag.
The Nike NBA Connected Jersey will cost fans $200 but inside the tag is a near field communication chip that connects to an iPhone app so that the wearer can have an “all-access pass” to content featuring their favorite players and teams.
Likewise, advertisers could also have unique access to pitching their products.
The sports experience has slowly been going high tech. Football and hockey coaches can now be observed glancing at tablet computers during games, hockey arenas are installing iPads to further engage the fans on site. One baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, is being investigated for allegedly using the Apple Watch to communicate pitch signs stolen from the opposing team’s catcher.
The National Basketball Association is meeting the fan at their level – their smartphone screens.
The smart jersey will work with the NikeConnect app. Both jersey and app will become available on Sept. 29. The jersey will be available online only.
“Our Nike uniforms set a new standard for connecting our most passionate fans with their favorite NBA teams and players,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
Tapping the phone against the tag, fans can get exclusives, like game scores and highlights in real time, player stats, video of players arriving at the arena (with the NBA dress code, a real fashion show) and even a player’s music playlist.
Keep in mind, the Nike, the NBA, and its sponsors would also like to be connected to your wallet. Merchandise will be available for in-app purchase.
In a story reported on the tech website Ars Technica, senior editor David Kravets suggested smart jersey wearers thus become marketing pawns.
“It…provides marketers with the Holy Grail of advertising opportunities,” he wrote. “Once the jersey is activated, Nike knows who bought the jersey, where that buyer lives, and where and when the jersey was scanned.”