NFL's Secretive Finances: A Nearly $10 Billion Mystery - Businessweek
J Thoendell stashed this in Sports
So the NFL is about as public, in one sense, as any business can get. But it’s also run as a very private business.
While the league office is run as a not-for-profit “trade association promoting [the] interests of its 32 member clubs,” all but one of those clubs are privately held, for-profit companies that reveal next to nothing about their finances. (The lone exception, the publicly held, nonprofit Green Bay Packers, releases an annual report to its 364,122 shareholders.) But the league office is also obliged, to its dismay, to release a 990 tax form each year that lists its revenue, costs, and the pay of its top executives.
Between the Packers’ report, the league tax filing, and the few details the league decides to reveal, it’s possible to glimpse the big picture without pinning down many unknown details.
The Packers’ annual report, meanwhile, showed $187.7 million in national revenue last year. That’s the team’s equal share in the league’s national TV revenue and a grab bag of money called “NFL Ventures” that comes from the league’s cable network; collective merchandising, licensing, and sponsorships (excluding the Dallas Cowboys); production house; and digital properties.
Multiplying that $187.7 million by the number of teams puts the shared NFL revenue pot at just over $6 billion. Most of that money is from national TV deals, and the number will grow with the new $275 million Thursday-night package sold to CBS this year.
That leaves more than $3 billion in local, unshared revenue between the 32 teams to get to the NFL’s total of roughly $9.2 billion. Most of the local revenue comes from ticket sales, which are split 60-40 for each game between the home and visiting team. On average, each NFL team generates about $100 million in unshared money. (The Packers claimed $136.3 million last season.)