Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Players Average $1.7 Million from TV Deal

Gregg Easterbrook makes an interesting observation of how the new multi-billion television package impacts the NFL:

The way the latest NFL-NFLPA agreement works, for all intents and purposes, broadcast fees go directly to players. Ticket sales cover the clubs’ expenses (coaching, facilities, overhead), and owners make their profit on everything left over (local radio rights, tie-in marketing, parking and food sales). Let’s stop to consider what this means to the average NFL athlete. This season, average NFL pay — monies actually received, not contract paper value — will be somewhat more than $1.7 million per gentleman. That’s almost exactly the $3.7 billion in broadcast rights fees, divided by roughly 2,000 NFL players on rosters or on injured reserve.

Now think about the amount the typical NFL player will earn this year just from ESPN. Ready? An average of $550,000 per player. That’s the amount ESPN is putting in the average NFL player’s purse for the 2006 season, and for seasons to come. From ESPN directly to you, dear NFL player: $550,000. The sum works out to $32,000 per Monday Night Football game. If you are an NFL player, every time you tune in Monday Night Football this season, bear in mind ESPN is sending you $32,000 worth of thanks. The next-highest rights fee on the landscape works out to about $12,000 from CBS to each NFL player for each game the Columbia Broadcasting System airs. So guys, ESPN is being almost three times as nice to you and your families as CBS! Remember this when interview requests come in.

Now, of course, those are averages and the incredibly high salaries of the star athletes mean a whole lot less for the marginal players. Still, that’s real money.

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