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Let’s talk sport, think business. The NFL (National Football League) records audience and turnover records every year.
267 matches per year. We are far… very far from the 1,230 played in the NBA per season, for example. And yet, the American football league is considered the most lucrative in the world. Why ?
The NFL generates nearly $16 billion per season. That’s more than MLB (baseball league), with about 10 billion. And more than the Premier League (English football) and its approximately 5 billion each year. In Forbes’ top 50 most valuable sports teams, there are 26 NFL franchises with an average annual budget of around $500 million each.
A soft-power which still works
Fans or not, everyone has heard of the Super Bowl. The final – with fanfare – of the NFL season is watched every year by several hundred million viewers around the world. For the 2022 edition, they were 112 million Americans – almost a third of the country – glued to their screens to follow the meeting.
It is the famous show half-time which increases the interest of the event. Each year, the league invites the greatest artists in vogue. In 2022, we were treated to an exceptional concert with an anthology of the greatest rappers of the 1990s-2000s. Eminem, Fifty Cent, Snoop Dogg and others set fire to the stage, installed in a few minutes on the ground. The previous year, the ultra mainstream TheWeeknd provided the show. In 2023, it will be Rihanna who will take up the torch.
And this American show resonates all over the world. It is not uncommon to come across fans of Super Bowl artists outside of Uncle Sam’s lands. So the event is followed worldwide. It sheds light on American football. Thus, the last Super Bowl broke audience records in France with 421,000 viewers watching the L’Équipe channel. An exceptional performance for a program broadcast at an abyssal hour in the middle of the week.
So, to anticipate this growing interest in France, L’Équipe landed a contract with the NFL. Since 2020, one of the Sunday matches – generally more in line with our time zone – has been broadcast on channel 21. A contract renewed every year since. It would rise around $500,000 per season. Here are a few more tickets in the league’s already well-stocked purse. But this agreement is above all a sign that their international expansion strategy is working.
A monopoly defended tooth and nail
The economic strength of the NFL also lies in its ability to maintain a monopoly on their practice. Other leagues are becoming more democratic all over the world, but they do not compete in the media with the American machine. So to enjoy the best show, the public around the world favors the NFL. This league, closed to a few American cities, attracts all eyes. There is no loss of audience as in football, where the many leagues and competitions scatter the ratings.
This monopoly “starifies” both the franchises and the players. In ranking Forbes of the highest paid athletes in 2021, we find four American football players. In eighth place in this top, Tom Brady and his 80.4 million dollars per season (sponsors included). A staggering sum gleaned with “only” about twenty games played. And the legendary quarterback Patriots and Buccaneers does not intend to stop there. When he retires, a consulting job at Fox Sports awaits him. At the end of the day, $358.77 million over ten years. Something to make you dizzy…
This well-guarded monopoly, coupled with a strategy that reaches beyond all borders, has enabled the NFL to win one of the most major history broadcasting contracts. Last year, the league reached an agreement with ESPN, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and Amazon for the distribution of their games. 110 billion euros over 10 years. At a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening more than ever, the NFL has definitely chosen which side it will be on… business is business.
Something is missing in this photo, right? • Kylian M’Bappé was awarded the player of the match trophy between the French team and Poland. Very discreet in the media since the start of the competition, the prodigy still split this post-match photo. However, one detail is obvious… Indeed, the Budweiser sponsor is missing on the cup. Kylian M’Bappé has expressly asked to remove the claw of the beer brand, because he does not wish to associate with signs selling alcohol. An example for the youth. Until the end !
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