How the NFL Maximizes Revenue

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American football is the most popular sport in North America by far, but on a global scale it pales in significance to soccer and cricket, yet the NFL is still up there as the most profitable sports league on the planet.

In the most recent season, the total revenue of all 32 teams in the league stood at a staggering $18.6 billion or around $581 million per franchise. 

In the Premier League, unquestionably the most watched and most popular sports league on the planet, total revenues for last season were $10.07 billion, or $503 million per team.

How then, does the NFL manage to punch above its weight and bring in more revenues than other sports leagues with much higher viewership’s? Read on to find out… 

Commercial Ruthlessness

There is no commercial area unexplored by the NFL. No opportunities for sponsorship are missed out on. No chance to increase brand awareness is passed up. The NFL and all of its franchises are experts in building their brand and making commercial gains.

Take the recent legalisation of online sports betting as an example. The ban on sports betting was only lifted in 2018 and it’s only in recent years that more states have moved to act upon that and legalise sports betting within their state borders.

Yet the NFL has not missed a beat, football fans need not look too far to find the latest NFL odds, whether they are at the game, on their team’s official website or watching the game live. When the decision was taken by the Supreme Court to legalise sports betting, the NFL probably already had its commercial sports betting plan in place.

It’s that ruthless attitude to commercialism that really sets the NFL apart from other sports leagues.

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(NFL franchises never, ever miss out on a commercial opportunity.)

Business Models

Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are, according to the Champions League betting odds, three of the best teams in Europe right now.

Every season their ultimate goal is to improve their playing squad and win domestic and European honours. Growing their brand and increasing their commercial appeal are secondary concerns and to fans, are often seen as a consequence of success on the pitch.

In the NFL there is an altogether different prevailing attitude, one that perhaps takes direct influence from American capitalism. In the NFL, franchises but equal, if not greater emphasis on improving commercial performances than sporting ones with sporting success often seen as a consequence of commercial success.

The best example of the clash between those two philosophies can be seen at Manchester United, a former powerhouse of English football who are experiencing a barren run without success. Their owners are the Glazer family, who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

(United fans have quite literally aired their frustrations over the Glazers at a Tampa Bay game.)

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The Glazer’s approach at both teams has been similar, yet fans of both Tampa and Manchester United have vastly different opinions of the family. The former have seen their team lift a Super Bowl whilst growing their brand steadily.

The latter have seen huge commercial success, the likes of which no soccer club has perhaps ever experienced, but limited success on the pitch and their fans are furious. 

United fans couldn’t care less about shirt sales in the US, brand awareness in Asia or the club’s performance on the stock exchange. All they judge their club on is results on the pitch, which is the prevailing attitude in non-American sports and it is an attitude that leads to clubs not fulfilling their commercial potential.

Cultural Attitudes

Beyond America sports teams are often seen as cultural assets that are as much the property of the fans as those paying the bills and funding the clubs. In the United States that isn’t necessarily the case, which is perhaps best demonstrated by the franchise system itself.

These differing cultural attitudes make it easier for NFL clubs to pursue commercialism so aggressively. Americans are used to be sold to, they are used to the dollars in their pockets being fought for by companies on a daily basis.

Which all comes together to create the perfect environment for commercial success. Not only are the conditions ripe for it in the US, but the franchises within the NFL are absolute experts at extracting every last cent out of their commercial activities.

Interestingly, there’s a growing trend of American businessmen getting involved in English soccer many with the belief that they can utilise that American commercial acumen to capitalise on the sales potential of the world’s most popular sport.

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