Four months ago, the NFL season was in jeopardy. Nearly 3,000 jobs and $160 million in local economic impact were at risk in each NFL city.
Today, the league is enjoying one of its most successful campaigns in recent memory. All it took was the prospect of missing games because of the lockout.
Fans this year are watching NFL broadcasts in record numbers. Through the first nine weeks of the season, Fox is averaging a network-record 19.8 million viewers per game, while CBS is having its second-best season since reacquiring the NFL in 1998. ESPN has committed $1.9 billion a year to extend Monday Night Football rights through 2021; and no TV partner has had more success this year than DirecTV, whose NFL Sunday Ticket product led to 327,000 new subscribers in the 3rd quarter, the company’s best quarter in seven years.
On the sponsorship front, PepsiCo signed a 10-year extension of its deal for a total of $2.3 billion, Marriott signed on as the league’s exclusive lodging partner, and the United Services Automobile Association became the NFL’s first official military appreciation sponsor.
With NFL sponsorship revenue expected to increase 15% this season, league-wide revenue could reach a record $9.5 billion. That would make the NFL bigger than Fortune 500 companies eBay, Whole Foods and Visa. Not bad for a business that nearly shut down for the year.