The National Football League is one of the richest sports organizations on the planet. The league earns about $10 billion each year, and its leaders project that number to rise to $25 billion by 2027.
Although lucrative licensing, advertising and media deals fuel the NFL money machine, in the end it’s the NFL’s legions of loyal fans who are responsible for the organization’s fortune. They fill the stadiums, host viewing parties and buy NFL-licensed merchandise.
With the 2015 football season well underway, the NFL is once again gearing up to make record profits on the backs of its fans. Here are four ways the NFL is getting rich off of your fandom.
STADIUM TICKETS, FOOD AND BEER ARE OVERPRICED
If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns or the Jacksonville Jaguars, you can still see your favorite team play live at local stadiums for less than $60. The average ticket prices for the league’s two least-expensive live-game teams are $54.20 and $57.65, respectively. Unless your team is at the bottom of the pack, however, a $60 ticket is likely to be out of reach.
The average price for NFL tickets to a live game is $84.43. The eight most expensive teams to see live — the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens — all charge, on average, more than $100 per ticket.
All told, attendance and ticket sales earn the NFL roughly $2 billion every year. NFL ticket prices, however, are not the only hit your wallet will take at the stadium. If you plan on having a beer while you watch, be prepared to pay. The average price of a small draft is $7.53. If you drive, plan to spend $31 for parking per game, or $248 each season.
FANTASY FOOTBALL COSTS YOU HUNDREDS
Thirty-three million Americans play fantasy football, the wildly popular gambling activity in which participants draft teams of real players and then compete against each other in leagues based on the performance of those players during actual games.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports that, on average, fantasy players shell out $465 a year on fantasy sports. People who participate in fantasy leagues spend $257 a year on daily fantasy and $162 on traditional fantasy. The remaining expenditure is an average of $46 spent on fantasy sports-related materials, including:
$14 for website subscriptions
$9 for print publications
$7 for draft boards
$6 for draft preparation kits
$5 for software
$4 for apps
HOSTING SUPER BOWL WEEKEND IS EXPENSIVE
The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched single-day sporting events in the world. About 111.5 million people tuned in for the 2014 Super Bowl. Altogether, consumers spent $12.37 billion on the game, with the average fan spending roughly $80 on Super Bowl weekend.
The bulk of that $80 was spent on food and beverages, apparel, decorations and furniture. In Nevada alone, gamblers wagered about $100 million on the Super Bowl in 2013.
FOOTBALL MEMORABILIA AND JERSEYS ARE OVERPRICED
Nike is the current official NFL team uniform brand — and they recently raised their prices for jerseys. To get their hands on a “limited” jersey, fans will have to cough up $150. If they splurge for the “elite” version, it will cost them a staggering $295.
When Nike won the title of official uniform supplier from Reebok in 2012, they immediately raised the cost of the cheapest jersey from $85 to $100. The reason for the increase, according to Time, is simply due to the fact that Nike has a monopoly on the merchandise.