The NZ Breakers will from next season have a new brand attached to their name.

After almost a decade, the sports team confirmed that Sky Sport would replace SkyCity as the naming rights sponsor for the team.

Asked why SkyCity had decided to drop its sponsorship of the team, SkyCity spokesman Colin Espiner was quick to point out the partnership hadn't ended entirely.

"We still expect to work together," Espiner told the Herald.

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"But after eight successful years as naming rights sponsor including three championship wins, we felt it was time to refresh our sponsorship arrangements."

SkyCity is no stranger to sponsoring sports teams, also lending its support to the Vodafone Warriors, the Stampede ice hockey team in Queenstown, the Chiefs, the Northern Premier League women's cricket competition, Waikato Cup Racing, Waikato Women's Rugby, the Northern Spirit women's cricket team, and the Northern Knights men's cricket team.

In addition, the company also sponsors one-off events for Badminton NZ, the New Zealand Rugby League, Athletics NZ and the Tall Blacks.

Espiner also pointed out that the lapse of the Breakers naming sponsorship shouldn't be taken as an indication that SkyCity is pulling back on sponsorship funding.

"Like all sponsors, we continually evaluate the best use of our sponsorship funding," says Espiner.

Espiner added that SkyCity is not looking to put its remaining sponsorship budget into any more name rights sponsors at this stage.

"We're concentrating more on one-off sponsorships and sponsoring sports events like the badminton and league," he said.

"Having said that we're always open to opportunities."

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Do naming rights work?

While most major New Zealand brands sponsor major sporting teams, there has long been an element of controversy around naming rights in the marketing industry.

As far back as 2007, the Journal of Sports Economics published an article by academics Eva Marikova Leeds which concluded there was "little evidence that the purchase of naming rights had a statistically significant impact on the value of the companies that bought them, even less evidence that the impact was positive, and no evidence at all that there was a permanent, positive impact".

The study found that while there may be a positive effect after the announcement date of a sponsorship deal, it was generally short-lived, lasting roughly 20 days.

"The firms that buy naming rights believe that the rights provide greater visibility, which
leads to higher profits," notes Leeds.

"This sentiment has generally been echoed in the marketing literature. In contrast, our main finding is that naming rights offer no economic value - in the form of abnormal returns - to the firms that buy them."

The shortcomings of naming rights sponsorship were also addressed in Wharton School of Business professor J. Scott Armstrong's 2010 book, Persuasive Advertising: Evidence-based Principles.

In the publication, Armstrong writes that evidence on the benefits of corporate sponsorship are weak.

Armstrong says that an overall review of research in the space showed that of 233 studies, only one examined how sponsorship affects consumer behaviour.

This is an important point in that there is still scope for more research to be on whether or not such deals do actually drive results for the businesses who fork out the hefty sums for the right to have their names on a shirt or a stadium.