Nike embeds NFC into NBA basketball jerseys

Nike embeds NFC into NBA basketball jerseys

Global sportswear giant Nike has built near-field communication (NFC) technology into its new range of NBA Connected Jerseys in “a radical evolution of the fan experience”, according to the official news announcement. The products invite fans to “tap into the game” via a special tag sewn into the bottom of the jersey.

After purchasing their favourite player’s jersey, fans need to download the NikeConnect app and tap the tag to unlock access to NBA content. Details of the exact content are currently scarce, but the pages on Nike’s website suggest that it will include curated highlights for the player, team and around the league, access to “player experiences”, and exclusive offers.

The new products are almost certainly driven by Apple’s support of NFC tag reading in iOS 11 for iPhone 7 and newer models, and further evidence that we are going to see more and more major brands jumping on the NFC wagon. Whilst some commentators remain annoyed that Apple has not gone the whole hog enabled NFC reading at the OS level, and there is no tag writing capability, we suspect that most consumers won’t really care. As long as there’s universal support for NFC (albeit via an app on iOS) – which there now is – brands can invest safe in the knowledge that they are backing a technology that can be accessed by the vast majority of their target audience.

For the time being there’s an early mover advantage too – as developments like this demonstrate.