Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks with Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie

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How Much Would NFL Owners Make By Moving To An 18-Game Schedule?

Kevin Hageland
August 29, 2019 - 7:21 am

(Bold title, I know.)

And you might be wondering, how does a feeble nighttime radio host (shameless plug, listen to The K&C Masterpiece 7-11pm each weeknight on 105.3 The Fan) know how much money the owners stand to gain if the NFL shifted to an 18-game schedule?

Fair question (spoiler alert – significantly more than by simply expanding the playoffs).

I’m a nerd and I have lots of free time - so I crunched all the numbers! The bad news, there will be math involved. The good news, I already did it for you!

The short answer is the owners stand to make LOTS. And here is the path to a more precise answer.

Start with the spots where revenue will increase, with the obvious first stop being national TV contracts. Per the Associated Press, the combined NFL media contracts account for $5.65 billion (with a B) per year, which averages out to $332 million for the league each week. Adding two games to the schedule could add another $664 million in revenue based on that, but think bigger picture and the NFL would probably add a second bye week – which means three extra weeks of league games at the going rate and $996 million of extra money … per year. And NFL TV contracts continue to increase at a remarkable rate, so that’s a figure that could easily rise.

But we’re just getting started.

Two more games added to the schedule means each NFL team will get another home game – and another opportunity to back up the money truck.

Per MarketRate, the average NFL ticket price in 2018 was $100.26. However, ticket prices have increased 20% in the last five seasons, so $120 is a far more reasonable ticket barometer. Multiple that by the average NFL attendance of 67,100 fans per game last season (per ESPN) and you have an additional $8 million for each team at the box office.

Add in the money that changes hands inside and around any given stadium ($31 average for parking a car of four people per CNN Money and $26 per person spent on concessions/merchandise per Forbes), which amounts to another $2.25 million.

That’s an extra $10.25 million each team rakes in for that extra home game.

Some may argue I am not factoring in the cost of staffing and running the stadiums on game day, but I am also not accounting for the additional money to be made via sponsorships, naming rights and gambling – so I’ll consider that a wash, which is again very conservative as I’m sure the owners see a profit with all those totaled.

If you’ve been adding up the numbers, good for you! If not, that’s OK – the total additional revenue for the owners is $41.375 million.

PER TEAM.

PER YEAR.

That’s why the owners are pushing so hard for this (and why I believe this option prevails ahead of playoff expansion). These numbers also don’t factor in the Raiders imminent move to Las Vegas and the Chargers and Rams relocating to the latest, greatest new stadium ever constructed in Los Angeles – all moves which will further raise the average ticket price.

So, what about the players? What do they get out of this??

What if I told you expanding to an 18-game schedule won’t cost the owners at all?

Preposterous, right? UNLESS, you consider my proposal to fully guarantee contracts. The salary cap would remain at $188.2 million per year (with the requisite yearly increases), but all contracts would finally be guaranteed – a move I’m sure the players would love and forego a greater share of the league’s revenue percentage to receive. And while the owners might cringe at first, the reminder of that additional $41.375 million in straight profit per year would no doubt allay such concerns.

If the players pass, the cap could be raised by the same per game metric I used earlier.

That means an additional $11.76 million per week or about $23.5 million per team for the extra two games. And even then, that still gives the owners about $18 million in additional profit per year … and that’s the worst-case scenario!

So, you wanted numbers – here they are; about $18-41 million (and let’s face it, given the ineptness of the NFLPA, the number is much more likely to be on the high end) per team per year. Or $180-$410 million per team in the next decade.

Forget all this nonsense about player safety, fan value or whatever else, it comes down to money.

Doesn’t it always?

And the owners are in line to make a truck load of it by moving to an 18-game schedule … on top of the truck load they already make, of course.