For NFL teams, the 2020 season disrupted by COVID will be the story of two revenue streams: national television money which continued its upward trend and local revenue which fell due to stadiums empty.
Each NFL team received a record $ 309.2 million in domestic revenue last year, according to figures released Friday by the Green Bay Packers. This figure is mainly due to the league’s multibillion-dollar television contracts, which were fulfilled in their entirety when the league played a full regular season and playoffs.
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Local income is a whole different story. The Packers reported just $ 61.8 million in local revenue in 2020, down 71% from the 2019 season. That money comes from most ticket sales, sponsorships, day-to-day revenue. match and merchandise sales.
This resulted in an operating loss of $ 38.8 million, the first time in more than 20 years that the team, which plays in the NFL’s smallest market, failed to turn a profit from ‘exploitation.
“It has been a very difficult year,” team president Mark Murphy said on a call to reporters. “We really feel like we’re staying in a strong financial position going forward and will continue to be able to provide resources for the organization to be successful.”
While the general trend is the same for all 32 NFL teams – national revenues up, local decline – details will vary depending on how many fans they allowed through the turnstiles last year. The Packers, for example, had a limited number of fans for their last four home games, plus two playoff games.
These deficits will also be temporary – while league revenues will clearly drop significantly from pre-pandemic level of $ 16 billion, it is expected to be a year-long hiccup. Not only are teams gearing up for full stadiums this fall, the league just signed an additional $ 105 billion in media deals that will begin for the 2023 season. Due to escalators built into current and upcoming media deals , this national media compartment will almost certainly increase for each of the next 12+ years.
“For all of us in the NFL, it’s reassuring to know it’s out there,” Murphy said. “I think it affected us in terms of some of the decisions that we make on projects and things of that nature, knowing that we’re going to have that stream of income.”
The Packers are a public, not-for-profit organization that operates differently from a public company. The team issues stocks that don’t appreciate, pay no dividends, and can’t be resold. Its sale in 2012 raised $ 64 million.
The unique structure, which includes limited annual disclosures, has become the only regular public overview of the league’s finances. The NFL renounced its tax-exempt status in 2015, so it no longer publishes information such as the salary of Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Murphy noted three things that helped the Packers make up some of the shortfall. The team didn’t need to dip into their corporate reserves, which now stand at $ 511 million, but they did use those funds to open a credit facility (Murphy declined to comment on details of this facility). The team’s investments also benefited from the strong performance of the market during its fiscal year – gains jumped to $ 120 million after losing $ 21 million the year before – and a number of holders ‘subscriptions allowed the team to keep their deposits.