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NFL revenue: Examining where the National Football League’s money comes from, future of NFL TV revenue

NFL revenue

How much revenue does the NFL generate every year? The National Football Football League is the most popular sport in the United States and is the king of television. It should come as no surprise that NFL revenue is skyrocketing and the league’s future is extremely promising.

Fans have certainly noted that salaries for players have skyrocketed in recent years for every position except running backs. In 2023, 11 NFL players had an average annual salary of $40-plus million and 56 players made at least $20 million per season. For comparison, just three players (Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees) earned $20-plus million in 2013 and Rodgers ($22 million) was the only NFL player with an average annual value above $21 million.

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The inflated salaries for players and coaches can all be attributed to the skyrocketing NFL salary cap, which has exploded from $123.6 million in 2013 to $224.8 million this season. With the salary cap tied to NFL revenue, it’s time to take a look at where all of this money comes from.

How much did the NFL make in 2023?

It’s estimated that NFL revenue during the 2023-’24 approached $20 billion. Of that figure, more than $11 billion came from the league’s broadcasting partners, per Yahoo Finance, with the second-highest source of revenue coming from ticket and merchandise sales in 230.

NFL TV revenue – How much TV partners pay for NFL games

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A majority of NFL revenue comes directly from its television and streaming partners. The NFL sells the broadcasting rights to its preseason, regular season and playoff games to broadcasters in multi-year deals for billions of dollars per season. Here’s a breakdown of how much each of the NFL’s broadcasting partners are paying for the annual rights to games.

NFL packagePartnerAnnual Cost
Thursday Night FootballAmazon$1.3 billion per year
Sunday afternoonCBS$1.85 billion per year
Sunday afternoonFOX$2.03 billion per year
Sunday Night FootballNBC$2 billion per year
Monday Night FootballESPN/ABC$2.7 billion per year
NFL Sunday TicketYouTube TV$2 billion per year
Christmas Day gamesNetflix$140-$160 million

In 2024, Netflix agreed to a multi-year year deal with the NFL for the exclusive streaming rights to two Christmas Day games during the 2024 NFL season and at least one each in 2025 and ’26. Amazon is also picking up a Christmas Day game in 2025, while adding the Black Friday and a Wild Card Game to its streaming schedule for the 2024 season.

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How the NFL will reach its $25 billion revenue goal

NFL: Super Bowl Host Committee Handoff Press Conference
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has set a goal for $25 billion in annual league revenue by 2027 (Sports Media Watch). While the league is more than $9 billion short of achieving its goal by that timeline, it reflects the trend of increasing revenue each season outside of the COVID-19 pandemic year.

In order to reach that, the NFL is dependent on its individual sources of revenue increasing each year. After earning $11 billion in national revenue in 2021, the NFL earned approximately $12 billion ($11.9 billion) across the 2022 season, a 7 percent increase from the previous year. As a result, each of the 32 teams received $374.4 million from national media rights, league sponsorships, merchandising and licensing over the past year. With the Green Bay Packers being publicly owned, their figures were released to give us an idea of what all 32 teams received.

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Media rights revenue is the largest source of the NFL’s profits, however, a variety of other factors help shape the total revenue. During the 2011 season, 31-of-32 NFL teams averaged 92 percent stadium capacity or higher, with 13 teams recording sellouts in every home game.

In addition, the NFL receives money each year from its non-media partners. As reported by Jabari Young of CNBC in 2022, the league earned nearly $2 billion alone from sponsorships for tech, gambling and alcohol. It helped generate an estimated $18 billion in NFL revenue, which the league expects to surpass $20 billion by 2025.

NFL revenue by year

  • 2023: $19+ billion
  • 2022: $18 billion
  • 2021: $17 billion
  • 2020: $12 billion
  • 2019: $16 billion
  • 2018: $15 billion
  • 2017: $14 billion

Related: Here’s how much fans must pay to watch every NFL game in 2024

NFL salary cap by year

  • 2024: $255.4 million
  • 2023: $224.8 million
  • 2022: $208.2 million
  • 2021: $182.5 million
  • 2020: $198.2 million
  • 2019: $188.2 million
  • 2018: $177.2 million
  • 2017: $167 million
  • 2016: $155.27 million
  • 2015: $143.28 million
  • 2014: $133 million
  • 2013: $123.6 million
  • 2012: $120.6 million
  • 2011: $120.375 million

The NFL salary cap dipped in 2021 as a result of the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without fans in attendance during the 2020 season, NFL revenue dipped for the first time in years. In order to spread out the effects of the lost NFL revenue, the 2021 salary cap was lowered.

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In 2024, the NFL salary cap increased by approximately $30 million for each of the league’s 32 teams. The salary cap is shaped by NFL revenue the previous year, a strong sign that the NFL enjoyed record-setting revenue during the 2023-’24 season.

NFL revenue FAQ

Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about NFL revenue, including how it compares to the NBA, its largest source of revenue and more.

How much revenue does NFL generate?

The NFL generated $18 billion in revenue across the 2022 season, the highest revenue ever recorded in a single year by an American professional sports league. It’s a slight increase from the record-setting figure in 2021 ($17 billion).

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How is the NFL profitable?

The NFL is profitable because of the positive revenue it generates from media rights, merchandising, sponsorships and stadium revenue it generates every year. Putting it into perspective, the NFL earned $12 billion in national revenue in 2022.

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With the 2023 NFL salary cap set at $224.8 million, that would mean a maximum of $7.2 billion dedicated to player salaries this upcoming season if every team hit the cap. As a result, the NFL generates a significant profit by making far more than it spends.

What is the largest source of revenue for NFL?

Media rights deals are the largest source of NFL revenue. Heading into 2023, the NFL will receive nearly $12 billion combined from FOX, Disney, NBC, CBS, Google (YouTube TV) and Amazon Prime for the broadcasting rights to its regular season and playoff games.

Related: NFL stadium rankings

How much does the NFL make in TV rights?

The NFL generates more than $10 billion in TV rights every season, with its 10-year contracts with broadcasting partners worth over $100 billion total.

Related: NFL defense rankings

Does NFL or NBA generate more revenue?

The NFL generates far more in annual revenue than the NBA. During the 2021-’22 season, it’s estimated the NBA earned $10 billion in revenue whereas the NFL earned $17 billion in revenue during the 2021 season. In addition, the NBA cracked $10-plus billion in revenue for the first time last year, while the NFL generated $10-plus billion in annual revenue in each of the last five years.

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