Sponsorship revenue for the NFL increased 12% during the 2021-22 season to a record $1.8 billion, according to sports partnership consultancy firm IEG. Despite not associating with gambling businesses in the past, sports betting and casinos saw the largest growth in sponsorship fees, growing more than 140%. In addition, teams took in 4% additional in rights fees, and League-level sponsorship spending grew by nearly 23%.

Cost of NFL Partnership Deals

SportsPro recently reported that in 2021, the NFL’s regular season live broadcasts reached an average national audience of 17.1 million viewers across its US broadcast partners’ linear and digital platforms. So, it should come as no surprise that corporate partnership deals with the NFL represent some of the most profitable deals in the sports industry today, working to generate revenue for the team while offering brands a lucrative opportunity to reach new audiences and gain more customers. Although lucrative, partnership deals come with steep costs, ranging from $10 million per year for smaller companies to more than $200 million per year for larger corporations. Here is a breakdown of some the recent sponsorship deals the NFL has made:

DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars

DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars signed a five-year deal with the NFL worth almost $1 billion combined. The deal names the three companies as sportsbook partners and allows them to use the logos of the NFL and its teams. In addition, DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars will be permitted to engage with fans via NFL-inspired games.

Verizon

Although Verizon has been working with the NFL for years, the two recently announced a mega deal naming Verizon as the official 5G partner of the league. In addition to 5G rights, Verizon will also provide teams with on-field data and illustrate how 5G technology can improve the fan experience. While the 10-year deal is worth an estimated $1 billion, it does not include live streams of games and leaves the NFL’s mobile rights still available.

Microsoft

Microsoft leads the technology category for sponsorship spending. The deal included NFL teams and staff using Microsoft’s Teams, and NFL players and coaches using Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines during games. The agreement is worth approximately $100 million per year.

Anheuser-Busch InBev

The NFL signed fourteen new sponsorship agreements with corporations in the spirits category, increasing rights fee spending by more than 130% year-over-year. Anheuser-Busch InBev has long been one of the NFL’s largest sponsors. In December, the two companies renewed a deal originally worth $250 million annually and now lasting through the 2026-27 season. As part of the agreement, that focuses on beer and hard seltzers, Anheuser-Busch InBev will continue to be the official beer and hard seltzer sponsor of the NFL, and the right to advertise using NFL team logos.

Diageo

Anheuser-Busch InBev is no longer the only alcohol partner of the NFL. The NFL recently added Diageo, associated with premium spirit brands including Johnnie Walker and Ketel One, as their first Official Spirits Partner for a reported $30 million per year. The NFL has also put its wine and champagne rights up for auction.

Nike

From commercials to signing star players as spokesmodels for their brand, Nike is one of the largest sponsors in American sports leagues. The brand has been providing uniform and apparel to all 32 NFL teams since 2012, and in 2019 extended its partnership with the NFL through 2028. The terms of the extended partnership were not released however, the original 2012 deal was reportedly worth $1 billion. Nike is also the official uniform provider of the NBA and Major League Baseball.

NFL Naming Rights Deals

Massive naming rights agreements are also common in the NFL, further adding to recent sponsorship growth including:

  • In 2019, Allegiant Airlines became the naming rights partner to the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium, a deal worth up to $25 million annually. 
  • In 2020, SoFi became the naming rights partner of the Los Angeles Chargers/Rams stadium, a 20-year deal, worth $400 million. 
  • Last year, Caesars struck a deal to become the naming rights partner of The New Orleans Saints Superdome, a 20-year, $138 million deal.

Crypto Deals

Cryptocurrency and NFT sponsorships are currently banned by the NFL, and the league has rules in place that significantly limit its team’s involvement in crypto. While teams can collaborate with crypto adjacent companies, partnerships with companies directly tied to crypto are not allowed. Team members are also prohibited from selling ads or sponsorships to crypto coins, crypto marketplaces, and companies that sell blockchain assets. The league is reportedly taking its time to study the regulatory, brand and other consequences of partnering with crypto companies and develop an appropriate strategy. In October, at the NFL’s owner meetings in New York, officials told CNBC that crypto-related deals are still being examined. Peter Laatz, IEG’s global managing director, called it the “sideline model” – as in, the NFL waits to see how other institutions maneuver.

NFL Marketing Partnerships Going International

The NFL is now looking to follow in the footsteps of the NBA by leveraging international markets. To boost NFL clubs’ revenue streams, the league recently permitted eighteen teams to market their intellectual property in twenty-six territories, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Despite having less popularity abroad than NBA teams, the NFL ‘s overseas plan, which it refers to as its “International Home Marketing Area,” has the potential to lead to highly profitable deals, such as The Golden State Warriors multiyear global rights sponsorship with crypto platform FTX estimated to be worth $10 million.

Contact A Sports Sponsorship Contract Negotiation Lawyer

The law offices of Brian J. Murphy provides experienced representation for corporate brands or sports teams considering entering into corporate brand sponsorship agreements, including arena naming rights deals, team jersey patch deals, and sports merchandise licensing. Contact us online or call 310-473-3500. From our law office in Los Angeles, we represent clients throughout California, the United States and around the world.