The 2018 NFL season starts Thursday night on NBC (CMCSA - Free Report) , which begins a roughly five-month stretch that will see football take center stage around the country for various reasons. But with the NFL’s TV ratings down and controversy surrounding the league once again, it’s a great time to take a look at how shares of some of the NFL’s biggest business partners, from Nike (NKE - Free Report) to Fox (FOXA - Free Report) , have performed.
The NFL has been under fire from both sides of the political spectrum for its handling of player protests during the national anthem. The league recently hired Activision Blizzard's ATVI Tim Ellis as its new chief marketing officer to help the league deal with some of its negative publicity issues. But just when it seemed to be getting worse for the NFL, Nike stole some of the heat with its new advertising campaign starring Colin Kaepernick.
Nike has been the NFL’s official jersey sponsor since 2012 after the sportswear giant took over for Adidas’ (ADDYY - Free Report) Reebok brand, which had held the rights for a decade. This past offseason, the NFL extended its deal with Nike to run through the 2028 season. Shares of Nike dipped on Tuesday following the release of its controversial ad. But investors will notice that NKE stock has crushed the S&P 500 since it began its deal about six years ago.
Now, let’s move onto the NFL’s television partners since that is where most of the league’s revenues come from. Disney’s (DIS - Free Report) ESPN is currently in the midst of an eight-year, $15.2 billion Monday Night Football deal, while CBS (CBS - Free Report) , NBC, and FOX are paying a total of roughly $27.9 billion over the course of their joint nine-year deal. Both of these TV rights deals began in the 2014 season, even though the media companies had been part of the NFL before then.
Investors can see that all four of the media giants have underperformed the S&P over the last four years, with CBS standing out as the biggest underachiever. Of course, it is clear that all of these companies—including Nike—run much bigger operations that have nothing to do with the NFL, yet it is a fun exercise nonetheless.
The NFL’s TV ratings sunk again last season by 9%, and advertising revenues slipped due to the increased prevalence of make-goods. However, overall broadcast TV and cable ratings took bigger hits than the NFL as Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) continue to expand. Therefore, the NFL’s business partners aren’t likely to move on anytime soon as consumers watch less and less live TV.
The most popular sports league in the U.S. has dozens of marketing partners and sponsors, but NFL fans will know that a few stand out. Anheuser-Busch (BUD - Free Report) , Ford (F - Free Report) , PepsiCo (PEP - Free Report) , and Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) are arguably the most visible NFL marketing partners.
Clearly, some of the NFL’s biggest and most easily associated marketing partners have suffered over the last year. Once again, there is a lot more going on here. But it will be interesting to keep an eye on how the NFL’s business partners perform during the 2018 season.
The Hottest Tech Mega-Trend of All
Last year, it generated $8 billion in global revenues. By 2020, it's predicted to blast through the roof to $47 billion. Famed investor Mark Cuban says it will produce "the world's first trillionaires," but that should still leave plenty of money for regular investors who make the right trades early.
See Zacks' 3 Best Stocks to Play This Trend >>