The National Football League is generating more money than ever before and the 2021 NFL season proved to be no different. Just a year removed from a financially challenging COVID-19 pandemic for the league, NFL revenue sources skyrocketed in 2021.
According to Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico, the NFL set a record with $11 billion in revenue generated this past year. The league distributes that across all 32 clubs, with each team set to receive $343.75 million.
It represents a notable increase from years prior. Putting that figure in perspective, the league generated $15 billion in total revenue from the 2019 season. As for national revenue, it’s estimated that the NFL earned approximately $9.895 billion in 2020 with the Green Bay Packers’ annual report disclosing that it received $309.2 million in national revenue from the league’s distribution tool, meaning a national revenue figure of nearly $9.9 billion.
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It should come as no surprise to see the most popular professional American sport setting new records for national revenue. It’s precisely why billionaire Rob Walton and his group set an unprecedented $4.65 billion, the most ever spent on an American sports franchise, to acquire the Denver Broncos.
Rising revenues also explain the direction the NFL is headed. Roger Goodell’s salary is expected to climb in his next contract and teams are projecting massive spikes in the salary cap in the years ahead.
Why national NFL revenue spiked in 2021
All of the positive momentum can be traced back to deals struck within the past two years. It all started with a new collective-bargaining agreement being reached, securing 10 years of labor peace and expanding the regular season with a bigger postseason.
It all set up as leverage for the league office as it negotiated new media rights contracts. Amazon is paying $1 billion annually for the exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football. Meanwhile, NFL Sunday Ticket is expected to be sold for a final price well past $2 billion per year.
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All of this doesn’t even account for the partnerships with the standard networks. Fox, Disney, CBS and NBC are all part of a massive pool that is providing the NFL with more than $100 billion in revenue over the life of the CBA.
It’s evident things also won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Apple TV wants to be more involved in live sports and the possibility exists down the line for Netflix or another streaming service to get involved. With NFL TV ratings exploding in 2021, evidence that this is all worth it for league partners.
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Ultimately, everyone involved in pro football benefits from this. Owners will turn a greater profit from a league that is essentially becoming a money-making machine. As a result, salaries for players, coaches and even the commissioner will keep climbing. While other professional sports are making progress, they are still far behind the competition that is now lapping them.