NFL’s Grubman Says League Has Not Yet Counted Shutdown's Revenue Losses

The National Football League hasn’t yet calculated how much it has lost in revenue due to the shutdown of the U.S.’s most-popular sport, according to Eric Grubman, executive vice president for business ventures.

Grubman said the league’s long-term business partners, while “steadfast in support of the NFL,” are concerned about committing dollars to marketing or activating sponsorships during a labor dispute that may cancel games next season.

“They have marketing budgets they have to commit sooner or later and they can’t commit them twice,” he said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “So they are nervous about it. They’ve got to make decisions. The TV companies are selling advertising in the upfront. That’s what, in the short term, is really at risk.”

NFL owners locked out players March 12 after federal mediation failed to reach a deal on how to divide $9 billion in revenue -- the most of any U.S. sports league. The move came after the players’ union abandoned its role in collective bargaining and players sued the league in federal court, accusing owners of violating antitrust law and fixing wages.

Owners voted in 2008 to opt out of the deal, saying it didn’t adequately account for costs such as those of building stadiums.

Grubman said in January that the NFL might lose $120 million in ticket sales, sponsorship and media revenue if a deal isn’t reached by this month, and $1 billion if it takes until September. Each week of missed games would mean a loss of $400 million, he said.

Grubman said today the league is working to update its projections.

Season-Ticket Renewals

“They’re more or less along the lines that we estimated,” he said. “We have to see what the clubs are doing. A lot of those projected losses through the beginning of the preseason were at the club level.”

Season-ticket renewals are doing better than league projections, he said.

“The results are pretty strong relative to what we expected,” he said. “We think it’s a sign that the fans, although they’re mad at everybody for not getting a deal, deep down they’re confident that we are going to get something done.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net; Matthew Miller in New York at mtmiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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