Sponsors Increased Spending on Major League Baseball in 2017, While NFL Spending Went Down

AP Richard Drew Goodell
AP Photo/Richard Drew

As it’s 2017 season wound down, Major League Baseball found that its sponsors spent eight percent more this year over last season. On the other hand, with ratings crashing and advertisers expressing serious doubts, sponsor spending on the NFL took a nosedive.

Major League Baseball saw corporate sponsors spend $892 million, which was an eight percent jump over last year, according to a report by sponsorship services company ESP Properties.

As Awful Announcing notes, the hike in sponsor spending comes as MLB’s World Series measured in as the third most-watched since 2005. The 2017 series between the L.A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros came on the tail of last year’s series between the Cubs and Indians, which was the most-watched in 12 years.

Indeed, baseball surged allowing it to help close the gap in sponsor spending between itself, and the top ranked NFL:

MLB feels that it’s beginning to turn a corner after NBA corporate spending got closer to baseball. Last season, NBA sponsors spent $861 million, up 7.8% from the year before. NHL sponsors paid $505 million, which is up 5.9% from the previous season, and MLS sponsors are expected to spend $347 million for this season, a rise of just over 4%.

The hike in spending on other sports only adds to the National Football League’s woes, though.

With NFL TV ratings continuing their downward trend with no end in sight, and sponsors warning that they may begin pulling advertising, football has never been more vulnerable.

After posting a $70 million loss of sales, big NFL sponsor Papa John’s Pizza — the “official pizza of the NFL” — recently warned the league to get a handle on its leadership or face a major change in advertising from the chain.

While it was the first major advertiser to warn the league that it had better make some changes, it was not the only source to voice some concerns. NBC Universal also told the NFL to get its house in order or expect trouble among sponsors.

Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC Universal, spoke this month during an industry conference call and said that, while no sponsors have actually followed through and pulled their advertising from the NFL, several have threatened her network that they may do so.

These latest rumblings come on the tail of lost ad sales last season when the national anthem protests began. Last December it was reported that the NFL had to pay “make goods” to advertisers for overly expensive advertising rates. As ratings fell, the rates the league charged for ads was too high because they were based on higher ratings.

If ratings continue to crater, the networks will have to continue lowering advertising rates, and many sponsors may simply abandon the league.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.