By Barry Janoff
February 2, 2016: In what might have been a backlash to "Deflate-Gate" and such issues as player health and concussions, domestic violent, child abuse and quality of officiating, sponsorship revenue for the NFL and its 32 teams rose 4.4% in 2015 after having grown 7.8% in 2014.
None the less, that 4.4% growth drove the NFL's total sponsorship revenue to a record $1.2 billion.
That marked the fourth consecutive season that NFL sponsorship revenue topped the $1 billion mark, according to the just-released IEG 2015 NFL Sponsorship Report from research, marketing and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
According to IEG, the increase exceeds the 4.1% increase in overall sponsorship spending but falls behind the 4.5% increase in the sports category.
The last time the NFL recorded sponsorship revenue of less than $1 billion was in 2011, when the total was $949 million.
Since then, NFL sponsorship revenue has been $1.01 billion in 2012, $1.07 billion in 2013 and $1.15 billion in 2014.
The NFL is No. 1 among the Big Four sports in the U.S. regarding sponsorship deals, according to IEG.
Sponsorship spending on the NBA and its 30 teams hit $739 million last season, according to IEG.
MLB sponsorship revenue in 2014 was $695 million and the NHL reached $447 million, according to IEG.
Worldwide sponsorship revenue on motorsports topped $5.3 billion, golf hit $1.65 billion in 2014 and tennis was at $739 million, per IEG.
The NFL signed two new sponsors for the 2015 season: Hyundai Motor, which replaced General Motors (an NFL partner since 2001) and Dannon.
The NFL's most active partner was PepsiCo's Gatorade. According to IEG, 100% of NFL properties were aligned with Gatorade as a spodnsor.
Among Gatorade's athlete endorsers are both Super Bowl 50 quarterbacks: Peyton Manning and Cam Newton (pictured below).
Not far behind was Anheuser-Busch InBev, with 88% of NFL properties aligned with the beer maker. Bud Light is the official beer sponsor for the NFL.
The most active category was insurance, with insurance companies 4.9 times more likely to sponsor the NFL than the average of all sponsors, according to IEG research.
Nationwide and USSA (military) are official partners with the NFL.
Geico is aligned with teams including the New England Patriots as well as NFL media partners.
However, "while the category remains strong, the ranking is down slightly from the 6.7 level of activation in 2014," according to IEG.
Although the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers rose above the other 30 NFL teams to reach Super Bowl 50, they were not above others regarding franchise sponsorship deals.
According to IEG, Denver is regarded as being among the NFL average when it comes to sponsorship deals, while the Panthers below the NFL average.
Teams that have total sponsorship deals above the NFL average (in alphabetical order) are the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.
Following Gatorade and Anheuser-Busch, the Top Ten most active brands related to the NFL are Papa John's (61% aligned), Verizon (58%) Microsoft (52%), Pepsi (52%), PrimeSport (48%), FanDuel (48%), P&G (48%), Geico (45%) and Ford (45%).
After insurance, categories most active in NFL-related efforts are quick-service restaurants (4 times more likely to sponsor the NFL than the average of all sponsors), food (3.4), medical (3.3), autos (3.1), banks (2.9), gaming (2.9), telecom (2.4), technology (2.4) and beer (2.3 times more likely to sponsor the NFL than the average of all sponsors), per the IEG 2015 NFL Sponsorship Report.
According to IEG, teams that are in the average NFL sponsorship range are the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks.
Teams that are below the NFL sponsorship average are the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis (soon to be Los Angeles) Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.
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