Last Week Today: May 31 – June 6, 2021 Sponsorship News
This is part of our "Last Week Today" series that includes a weekly roundup of the past week's most exciting and industry-altering news. Check back on our blog every week for updates! These stories cover sponsorship news for May 31 – June 6, 2021.
Fox Sports to Revive USFL
Starting in the spring of 2022, with Fox Sports leading the broadcasting, the United States Football League is returning after a 35-year hiatus. The USFL, which only survived for three seasons in the early 1980s, will look to capture the football-crazed demographic during the spring and summer instead of going up directly against the National Football League in the fall and winter. The newly formed, the 8-team league will hope to avoid the same fate as their initial iteration as well as other recently defunct, alternative football leagues such as the AAF and XFL. While the USFL will target the short amount of time on the calendar that the NFL doesn’t dominate, the NFL is already looking at ways to extend their season to 18 games, cutting even more into the ‘off-season’ opportunity for other leagues.
Endorsements Edge Salaries for Top Athletes
No matter the sport, professional athletes are seeing record salaries as media rights and sponsorship money flows into the leagues and teams. Not only are these team endorsements leading to record profits for the industry, but personal endorsements of top athletes have to lead to record annual pay for those elite performers. Via Forbes, the
fighter Conor McGregor topped this year’s list with $180 million in annual pay. While a decent amount of this came from his share via UFC and boxing matches, the fight purses pale in comparison to the endorsement money that McGregor sees through products such as Proper Twelve Whiskey.
17-Game Season Just a Pit Stop?
Just two months after approving the upcoming 17-game season, NFL owners are already looking to extend the regular season to 18 games. A change that would happen within the next few years, the 18-game season would both sweeten the current media rights deals for the NFL as well as extend the season into the early spring where there is currently not much professional sports competition. It remains to be seen how the league will pitch this 18th game to the NFL Players Association which has previously argued that additional games do not take player safety into account.
Media-Backed WNBA Seeing Gains
Entering its 25th season, the WNBA has seen increases of over 70% in viewership compared to recent years. Part of this rise could be due to the increased attention on the league and highlighted, star players via new media and sponsor partners such as Disney, Google, and Amazon. For a league that has struggled overall, an average of $10 million in losses annually since inception, the increased viewership should hopefully turn into additional media and sponsorship spend. Interestingly enough, a major market for this viewership boost has been Canada, which does not currently have a WNBA team.
Be on the lookout next week for the usual round-up of sponsorship news.