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NFL Recap: Why Climbing TV Ratings Matter & Football's Gambling Future

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Welcome to the latest episode of the Full-Court Finance podcast from Zacks Investment Research where Associate Stock Strategist Ben Rains breaks down the NFL’s recently released 2018 regular season TV ratings, which bounced back after years of declines. The episode then dives into how the NFL’s new partnership with Caesars Entertainment (CZR - Free Report) stacks up against MGM’s (MGM - Free Report) deals with the NBA and other leagues and discusses why they mean so much.

The NFL’s ratings jumped 5% during the 2018 regular season. The reasons for the climb in TV viewership from 2017 are up for debate. But in the age of Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , it seems that the NFL is poised to remain a juggernaut that advertisers must pay top dollar for.

The NFL’s national TV ratings climbed across the board, with all of its TV partners’ ratings—Fox FOXA, CBS (CBS - Free Report) , NBC (CMCSA - Free Report) , and ESPN (DIS - Free Report) —up from last year. NBC’s Sunday Night Football remained king, but Disney was likely pleased to see Monday Night Football’s ratings surge 8%. Other TV-based stats also helped prove that the NFL remains a force and should help keep its biggest marketing and advertising partners, which include Nike NKE, PepsiCo (PEP - Free Report) , Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD - Free Report) , Ford (F - Free Report) , Microsoft MSFT, Pizza Hut YUM, and others, around for years to come.

Meanwhile, the NFL also announced late last week that it signed a deal with Caesars that will see it become the first-ever “Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL.” The deal comes after the three other major North American professional sports leagues signed partnerships with MGM. But the NFL’s deal is certainly unique, expensive, and highlights differences from its counterparts.

Going forward, the NFL must try to grow in the new age of entrainment as it eases its way into the potentially game-changing world of legalized sports gambling. The notoriously old-school and strict NFL also has to attract younger, YouTube (GOOGL - Free Report) and Instagram (FB - Free Report) obsessed fans. And it certainly seems that the most popular sports league in the U.S. is trying to adapt in order to continue its dominance.

As a reminder, if you feel that we missed something, or if you have any topic suggestions, shoot us an email at podcast@zacks.com. Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at zacks.com/podcasts, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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