Friday, February 26, 2016

NFL Numbers Show a Greater Emphasis on PR than the Sport – and it Works!


The National Football League represents the highest of aspirations for anyone looking to make it big in American football. Many would think then the NFL’s contribution to the sport would center on the players and building big stadiums to host their games.
But figures show the organization spends most of its money on broadcasting and amping up their public image.

This may seem counterproductive, but it works! Paying the Mouthpiece In 2014, the NFL paid Roger Goodell a whopping $34.1 million – pretty impressive for an organization which was still a non-profit at the time. It did not escape Bloomberg’s notice that such a salary meant Goodell earned more than all but 61 CEOs working for public companies.

This put Goodell right behind CVS’s CEO, Larry Merlo. At a first glance, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but CVS generates more than 10 times the revenue of the NFL, and certainly doesn’t have as many celebrity employees on payroll.

Relative to other organizations, the NFL spends an overwhelming amount of its revenue on paying its public face. This is in spite of public observation that Goodell does not bring exceptionally high-level executive skills to justify his salary. In fact, many people see him as aloof and under-qualified for handling the sometimes sensitive and sensational issues plaguing the NFL and its players – of late, many of those fall in the area of domestic violence and child abuse.

Even so, Goodell sees himself as a protector of the NFL shield and maintains his primary responsibility is defending the integrity of the game. Seeing the Benefits In spite of criticism of his leadership, Goodell’s protection of the shield and the NFL paying him to do it has had positive effects on the bottom line. Broadcasting companies now find themselves paying billions to the NFL just for the rights to host shows and cover major NFL events.

This brings in additional revenue for the NFL without doing much more than existing. Meanwhile, taxpayers pick up the bill for the high cost of building stadiums. Under Goodell’s leadership, the NFL brought in $28 billion from Fox, CBS, and NBC alone for broadcasting rights of playoffs and the Super Bowl.

ESPN also pumps almost $2 billion into the NFL each year for the rights to “Monday Night Football”. Even DirectTV contributes to the NFL’s growing revenue by paying $1.5 billion per year to keep exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket.

Though many people may question the ethics of valuing a mouthpiece above the players who help make the NFL what it is, the NFL’s strategy continues to work with high rates of return.

The disproportionate payments to Goodell’s salary only brought in more investments under his leadership and continue to grow the organization.

This represents good business sense, even if taxpayers and the general public might not agree.


Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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