The NFL is a massive, monolithic business. Any way you slice it, it’s one of the biggest entertainment operations in the world today. Forget the individual financial performance of its various teams. Taken as a single entity with multiple satellite franchises operating underneath it, the NFL is an economic powerhouse.
One of the NFL’s biggest revenue sources — aside from game tickets and it’s fat TV package — are its corporate sponsors. Those sponsors have quite a bit of sway over the NFL, and for good reason. They pay a lot of money for the privilege. But who is the biggest sponsor, and how much do they pay for the association with the NFL?
Money talks when it comes to the NFL
For a glimpse into the power the NFL’s corporate sponsors wield over its franchises, look no further than this past offseason in Washington, D.C. Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder spent years defiantly claiming he’d never change the team’s name — a name many thought was offensive.
That was all well and good until FedEx, the team’s biggest sponsor, turned up the pressure on Snyder to change the team name according to the New York Times. Within days, Snyder had announced the team’s plan to change its name. They adopted the Washington Football Team moniker and announced plans to eventually adopt a permanent new mascot.
Consider for a second that Snyder was a lifelong fan of the team, loved the team name, and as a majority shareholder, had no one within the organization who could compel him to change his mind.
Corporate sponsors — or, at least, the ones who sink the most money into the league — can change the minds of NFL owners. There is a shortlist of people who are part of that club.
Who are some of the biggest NFL corporate sponsors?
In January 2020, the NS Business compiled a list of the top NFL sponsors. A few major ones included:
- Procter & Gamble: $15 million
- Caesar’s Entertainment: $30 million
- Fanatics Inc: $50 million
- Amazon: $75 million
- Oakley: $75 million
- Pepsi: $100 million
- Nike: $120 million
- Anheuser-Busch: $230 million
None of these names are particularly surprising, of course. They’re some of the most recognizable brands in the world today. But none of them can hold a candle to the single largest sponsor currently sending funds to the NFL. That honor belongs to a widely known telecommunications provider.
The NFL’s single biggest corporate sponsors
Companies line up to do business with the NFL. Advertising at an NFL stadium or on an NFL broadcast is the equivalent of printing money: your brand is sure to receive a wealth of exposure to its target demographic. That’s why so many companies fight over the ability to become NFL corporate sponsors. Only one can be the biggest, however.
That sponsor is Verizon Wireless at a price tag of a reported $300 million. According to Conrad Wiacek, head of corporate sponsorship at a sports intel firm called Sportcal, Verizon is a major partner to the NFL in large part due to the shifting paradigm of how fans consume the action (per NS Business):
“Verizon is a significant NFL partner especially as the league focuses more on digital, with Verizon offering mobile streaming rights for in-market and national games.”
The game has never been more mobile-friendly. Fans at home tune into games on TV, but some stream the action right to their devices. Others use their laptops to pull up minute-by-minute fantasy football updates.
Even fans in the stadium use their phones to follow the action online. The NFL is an increasingly digital league so it makes sense why Verizon would be its biggest corporate sponsor.