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NFL, NFLPA Disagree On Revenue Claims

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There was an interesting point counterpoint this week about the revenues of the NFL. As always, the NFL won't open it's books to reveal the true revenue of the league, but there was an article in the Wall Street Journal this week claiming that these revenues have "flattened." In fact, the article claims that NFL owners are a billion dollars short of their projected growth when the last labor deal was signed. The article cites stagnant ticket prices and only slight increases in broadcast revenue.

"Ticket revenues have been essentially flat for the past three seasons and given the economy, owners sense they’ve hit a ceiling (the average ticket costs about $76). With governments at every level facing deficits, the subsidy well is all but dry."

"Another season of record NFL ratings should boost revenues from the broadcast networks and satellite provider DirecTV, but not as dramatically," Futterman notes. "Revenues from media rights increased to $3.8 billion for 2010 from $2.6 billion in 2005—a 46% increase. But between now and 2013, the final year of the new broadcast contracts, fees will only increase $350 million, or about 9%.

The players, understandably, disagreed. In some cases they pointed out that the WSJ article ignores billions in other revenues, while in another case they claim the numbers about broadcast revenue growth are in reality much higher than the article suggests. Their evidence is after the jump.

This was from a press release the NFLPA sent out. It details billions in new revenue for the league that has nothing to do with ticket prices.

·  During the 2010 offseason, the NFL inked a six year deal for $1.2 billion simply to name Bud Light the league's "official beer."

· In February 2010, Verizon Wireless agreed to a four-year, $720 million media rights deal to replace Sprint as the NFL's exclusive wireless partner.

· In January 2011, ESPN and the NFL announced plans to enter into a new, record-setting, media rights deal that will be worth nearly $2 billion per year. ESPN has agreed to pay about 40% more per year to extend its rights to "Monday Night Football."

Personally, I think it's a joke for the NFL to release bits of info about their revenue piecemeal. It's half truths. Ticket prices and broadcast revenue are just two of many revenue streams the NFL has. There's the sponsorships the NFLPA mentioned here, but let's also not forget merchandising. Back in October we reported that the NFL signed a new jersey deal with Nike and six other companies to produce various apparel. That's a deal that neither the NFLPA or NFL mentioned.

The NFL can't have it both ways here. They can't refuse to open their books and reveal the truth of their revenue, while also leaking out bits of info on certain revenue streams. It's disingenuous at best.