NFL sponsorship growth slows to 5.1%, massaged by relaxed gambling rules

NFL sponsorship gamble pays off as revenues rise 5.1% to $1.39bn for 2018-19

The US National Football League has gone from strength to strength through 2018-19 after racking up 5.1% year-on-year sponsorship revenue growth to reach $1.39bn for the season – although this was somewhat below the 5.9% gain achieved the year prior.

Ahead of the Super Bowl, figures compiled by IEG research show that this growth can be attributed a new wave of league sponsors as brands such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Intuit shoulder charge their way to success on and off the pitch.

NFL coffers have been further bolstered by renewed interest from casino and gaming firms keen to take advantage of relaxed gambling rules with increased spend (although the absolute number of deals in this category remains broadly flat).

One of the most eye-catching deals in this segment was a $30m play by Caesar’s Entertainment become the sport’s first ‘Official Casino Partner’.

Peter Laatz, global managing director at IEG, said: "The NFL and its teams have successfully leveraged the increased ability to sign betting and gambling partners. It allowed the league to defy the odds and increase sponsorship revenue by a decent margin coming off a season of declining ratings in 2017-18 and no new stadiums opening in 2018-19."

Beer brands remain the single biggest sponsors by category, splashing out 4.3 times more cash than any other sport. Vehicle manufacturers and soft drink giants also remain heavily invested in the game.

In terms of specific brands the most closely intertwined is Ticketmaster which has sponsorships in place with all NFL properties, followed by Budweiser/Bud Light at 88% of the league; Gatorade on 79% of teams, followed by Microsoft 73%, and Bose 70%.

The NFL has been seeking to grow alternative revenue streams amid a fall in ad revenues over recent months.

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