Total sponsorship spending on the National Football League and its 32 teams exceeded $1.47 billion in the 2019-20 season, with nearly 1,500 existing partnerships and more than 350 new deals signed, according to sponsorship authority IEG.
The top categories for new sponsorship deals signed in the NFL during the 2019-20 season were lottery and gambling, insurance, apparel, wine, technology, investment services, retail, spiked seltzer, spirits and building and home improvement.
Newcomers trying out NFL sponsorship include meal kit companies, cryptocurrency, and meat substitutes, says Peter Laatz, global managing director, IEG.
Anheuser-Busch InBev was once again the biggest sponsorship spender in the NFL, promoting brands including Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, Corona and Labatt Blue labels in addition to its Bud Light and Budweiser brands. PepsiCo had the largest volume of partnerships, activating with the Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi, Quaker Oats and Tostitos brands.
As the NFL relaxed its alcohol sponsorship policy in 2019, the wine and spirits category was the biggest mover, tripling its size and adding 18 new wine brand deals. The NFL named Babe, a sparkling wine in a can from Anheuser-Busch InBev, as its official wine partner. Seventeen teams added at least one wine sponsorship. Mano’s Wine has agreements with seven different teams.
The technology category had the highest volume of active sponsorship agreements in the 2019-20 NFL season, with more than 120 partnerships—the most visible being Bose headsets and Microsoft Surface tablets. Also, the NFL and Amazon Web Services expanded their existing partnership this season to use AI and cloud computing to advance player health and safety. Sponsorship spending in the technology category increased 16% from 2018-19, per IEG.
Overall retail sponsorship spending in the NFL is up 48%. Lowe’s became the official home improvement sponsor of the NFL. The multi-year deal includes national and local activations plus marquee events like the Super Bowl and the NFL draft. The home improvement retailer also signed new team-level deals with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
Casinos, daily fantasy sports, online betting and lotteries notched 21 new sponsorship deals in 2019-20. Spending grew 34% year-over-year. The NFL welcomed its first official casino sponsors in 2019 with Caesars Entertainment in the United States and Gateways Casinos in Canada.
DraftKings became the official daily fantasy partner of the NFL. Daily fantasy rival FanDuel inked deals with several teams including the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.
Two new stadium naming rights deals should make substantial impacts on financial services and airline sponsorship spending in the upcoming NFL season. SoFi is the naming rights partner for the Rams’ and Chargers’ new stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, and Allegiant has naming rights for the Raiders' new home when they move to Las Vegas.
The NFL also could also fill its vacant “official passenger vehicle” category, giving a boost to automotive spending, noted IEG.