This year's Super Bowl LVIII saw 58 brands take center stage before more than 123.4M viewers across CBS platforms with the help of over 115 influencers, luminaries, and athletes during the most-watched television broadcast in history––demonstrating that when it comes to making a lasting impression with limited airtime, celebrities still reign supreme for brands attempting to make an impact. 58 brands utilizing endorsements in commercials was a 27% increase from the previous Super Bowl.

T-Mobile and e.l.f. Beauty led the list with the most endorsers in a Super Bowl campaign with 10 and 8 boldface names, respectively. Featuring Bradley Cooper, Jason Mamoa, Common, and Zach Braff (T-Mobile) and Benito Skinner, Emmanuel Acho, and Meghan Trainor (e.l.f. Beauty), among others, the splashy spots leveraged serious star power to wow a wide and diverse audience. 

Candy/Baked Goods––including brands like Lindt, M&M's, Nerds, Nestle Drumstick, and Reese's––ran more commercials than any other category, followed by US Beer brands in second, and Cosmetics & Skin Care in third, reflecting both the array of industries and marketing strategies vying for attention during the blockbuster TV event. Addison Rae’s (135M social followers) cameo in the “Flashdance”-themed Nerds commercial (T-Mobile’s ad with Jason Momoa also paid tribute to the iconic film) nods to social media influencers’ ongoing emergence as mainstream stars with an arguably unrivaled ability to engage younger, tech-savvy audiences. 

Other brands used elite athletes and marquee movie stars to connect with different viewer segments. Soccer phenom Alex Morgan––who appeared in sports drink maker BodyArmor’s high-intensity Super Bowl spot, alongside NFL standouts Christian McCaffrey and Joe Burrow––signaled aspiration and peak physical performance, championing health and exceptional achievement as the explosive momentum of women's sports continues. Meanwhile, State Farm and SToK Coffee turned to enduring Hollywood icons Arnold Schwarzenegger and Anthony Hopkins, respectively, to convey prestige and reliability that resonates with consumers long after the championship game ends.

Just when you think the NFL can’t fly any higher, the league’s popularity soars to new heights. NFL regular-season games averaged the most viewers since 2015 and the second highest since averages were first tracked in 1995. The Wild Card playoffs drew nearly 137 million fans—the second largest total audience on record.

Against this blockbuster backdrop, the league is unveiling new and lucrative sponsorship avenues for blue-chip brands. This is exemplified by Pepsi, a longtime NFL partner. Pepsi became the "Official Zero of the NFL” this season, compelling the league to allow players to wear jerseys with the number “0” for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, Toyota inked a multi-year agreement last October to become the NFL’s Official Auto Partner.

The NFL also continues to grow its audience and entice younger viewers via savvy distribution deals—like the NFL Sunday Ticket, which moved to YouTube TV this season in a seven-year partnership that will pay the league some $2 billion annually. Amazon Prime Video's Thursday Night Football ended its second season with an average 11.7 million viewers per game in 2023.

With the US market firmly in hand, the NFL has its sights set on a growing list of distant shores. Twenty-one clubs participated in its Global Markets Program in 2023 across 14 international markets, up from 19 clubs across 10 markets the previous season. In December, the league announced plans to play a regular season game in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2024—marking the league’s first foray into South America—and voted to expand the slate of international matchups from four to up to eight games in 2025.

For all these reasons and more, we’re thrilled to unveil our NFL Marketing Partnerships 2023 Report. Jointly authored by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research and Analytics departments, it encompasses more than 2,100 brands, 3,500 sponsorship deals, and more than 49,000 sponsorship assets from September 1st, 2019 to January 8th, 2024.

The NFL 2023 season witnessed a remarkable surge in viewership, with the regular season games averaging 17.9 million viewers across ESPN, NBC, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, CBS and FOX, a notable increase from previous years. This upward trend in viewership was not just confined to the regular season but also extended to the playoffs, setting new all-time records. The playoffs alone drew an average of 38.5 million viewers across the Wild Card, Divisional, and Conference Championship rounds, making it the most-watched NFL playoffs ever recorded​​. With this increase, over 670 unique brands have capitalized on the viewership and purchased 1 or more advertisements on NFL broadcasts this year.

Top Advertising Categories Making an Impact:

Betting & Daily Fantasy: The synergy between the excitement of NFL games and the thrill of betting has made this category a frontrunner in the advertising space with 19 unique brands securing media placement across NFL broadcasts. DraftKings, FanDuel and newly created ESPN BET lead in terms of number of assets.

FanDuel x NFL on FOX

Pharma & Over the Counter: Pharmaceutical brands went toe-to-toe competing for airtime this season. In this hyper-competitive category, 48 unique brands secured media placement and competed for viewership SOV ranking this category #1 in terms of the number of brands with an advertisement. Since 2021, 27% more brands within this category have begun to advertise on NFL broadcasts.

Pfizer x NFL on ABC

Property & Casualty Insurance: Emphasizing protection and peace of mind, insurance advertisements have resonated deeply with fans, highlighting the brands' commitment to safeguarding what fans treasure most. Making a huge impact in terms of the number of assets, only 8 brands dominated this sub-category during broadcasts.

Progressive x NFL on NBC

The evolution of NFL advertising in 2023 goes beyond traditional commercials, with brands creatively engaging viewers through:

Logo/Ad Pop-ups: These brief yet impactful media assets have seamlessly integrated into live action, ensuring brand awareness among viewers. 

In-Game Live Reads: Offering a personalized touch, these shout-outs have created a unique connection between the brand, the viewers, and the announcers.

In-Game Featured Segments: Exclusive content segments have provided brands with an opportunity to weave their narratives into the fabric of the NFL, keeping fans engaged and entertained.

The NFL's record-breaking viewership in 2023 underscores the league's unmatched appeal as a marketing platform, offering brands a golden opportunity to reach out to a broad and engaged audience. With the integration of innovative advertising strategies beyond traditional commercials, brands have successfully captured the attention of viewers, making an indelible mark on the NFL's thrilling season.

As we gear up for the highly anticipated AFC & NFC Championship games this weekend, the spotlight isn't just on the four quarterbacks' on-field prowess, but also their significant influence off the field. These star quarterbacks are more than game changers during play; they're also making waves on social media and in the endorsement arena.

Baltimore Ravens' QB Lamar Jackson boasts a robust 4.5M followers across Instagram and X, showing a steady 4% YoY growth. Meanwhile, two time Super Bowl champ Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs leads the QB pack with an impressive 9.8M followers on Instagram, Facebook, and X, reflecting a 15% YoY growth. Detroit Lions' Jared Goff may have a more modest following at 689K on the same 3 platforms, but his 16% YoY growth is a testament to his rising influence. Since it’s been 32 years since the Lions made it this far into the postseason, his follower count and endorsement deals could quickly skyrocket. Lastly, the San Francisco 49ers' Brock Purdy, though newer to the scene, has shown an explosive 162% YoY growth, reaching 982K followers on Instagram and X.

Beyond their social media presence, these quarterbacks are leveraging their platforms for lucrative endorsement deals. From Lamar's 3 deals to Mahomes' whopping 18 which include Head & Shoulders, Oakley and Prime—every quarterback is leaving their mark through their partnerships. While Goff has 1 deal as of now with Cane Protein, the opportunity for brands is knocking on the door with two Super Bowl QB’s on the horizon—same goes for Brock Purdy who is newer to the league and has 4 deals.

With such significant growth, these quarterbacks are not just sports icons; they're influential brands in their own right. As the championships approach, their combined on-field skills and off-field engagements promise a thrilling culmination to the season.

As the 2023–24 college football bowl season—which dates back more than 120 years, to the first-ever Rose Bowl in 1902—kicks off Saturday, let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship landscape of this celebrated American athletic tradition.  

Notably, 28% of this season’s bowl game sponsors are headquartered in the matchups’ local markets, as brands like Cricket, Isleta Resort & Casino, and Quick Lane leverage the games to amplify their presence within nearby communities and connect with fans. 

Meanwhile, an intriguing 21% of brands––including Avocados From Mexico, Scooter's Coffee, and Pop-Tarts—have stepped up as new title sponsors for bowl games this year. Pop-Tarts is set to make a big splash with its first title sponsorship by unveiling an innovative edible mascot for the inaugural Pop-Tarts Bowl, taking place December 28th at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. After engaging with the crowd during the game, the tantalizing toaster pastry character will magically transform into a snack for the winning team. This singular introduction aligns with Pop-Tarts' broader strategy to intercept moments when snacking occasions meet passionate audiences, reinforcing the brand's new creative direction unveiled in July. 

While the 43-game college bowl season continues to evolve, expect to see more brands seize these unique marketing opportunities to activate in other memorable ways as they tap into the nation’s burgeoning passion for college football, whose viewership rose 12% in 2023 and 28% over the last five years. 

The Ad Age article titled "How The NFL Grew Flag Football Into An Olympic Sport Attracting Major Brands and Gen Z"  highlights the transformative journey of flag football from a recreational pursuit to an Olympic sport, thus drawing attention from major brands. SponsorUnited's data reveals that USA Football, the focal point, secured sponsorship from 17 brands in the last 12 months, with HSS–Hospital for Special Surgery leading the pack. Across the broader flag football landscape, 134 brands are actively buying sponsorships/media, with categories like apparel and accessories, leisure and recreation, and technology taking center stage. USA Flag, overseeing adult flag football, boasts an impressive 75 brand partnerships, including collaborations with Oakley, Reign Total Body Fuel, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, Shock Doctor, and more—showcasing the sport's versatility and appeal to a diverse portfolio of brands.

This surge in sponsorships/media deals not only underlines the expanding cultural significance of flag football but also signifies its ability to attract brands targeting a variety of consumer demographics. As flag football gains Olympic recognition and resonates notably with the Gen Z audience, the sport's sponsorship landscape serves as a dynamic arena for brands to connect with a broad and engaged fan base, exemplifying the evolving intersection of sports, marketing, and cultural trends.

Pit Boss® Grills recently announced it will become the Official Grill of both the Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers. This marks the first NFL partnerships for Pit Boss, which is now the only grill brand with more than one major pro sports deal. Congrats to all three of our partners on these exciting new relationships!

“As we delved into the world of NFL partnership possibilities, the data and insights we obtained from the SponsorUnited team definitely made a difference in our deals with the Ravens and Packers,” said Jared Kozinn, head of sports partnerships at Dansons/Pit Boss Grills.

Pit Boss Sponsorship History

Pit Boss has served as the Official Grill of NASCAR for the past five years, and this sponsorship has really worked for them. Brand awareness* for Pit Boss amongst the NASCAR fan base was 23% five years ago; however, after Pit Boss Grill’s fourth full season as the entitlement sponsor for NASCAR, brand awareness is now at a whopping 74%. Due to the success of this partnership, Pit Boss decided to explore NFL sponsorship opportunities to expand their reach. Not only does the league have a huge fan base, but there is an innate relationship between football and grilling.

Pit Boss NFL Strategy

By partnering with the Packers and Ravens, teams that play in notoriously cold climates, Pit Boss aims to disrupt seasonal grilling, extend the traditional sales cycle, and sell grills all year long. “Our products are designed to perform in the harshest weather conditions and are easy to use. We want to show consumers that if you can cook on a Pit Boss grill in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field,” says Kozinn, “you can cook on a Pit Boss grill anytime and anywhere.” But it goes beyond cold-weather grilling. The impressive digital and social reach of these two organizations, along with the nationwide fanbase of both, is a significant advantage for Pit Boss. 

There is also opportunity to impact the local community in both markets. Pit Boss and the Ravens have come together to donate a brand-new grill to every fire station in Baltimore City, and in Green Bay, there is a giveaway that is only open to local heroes (first responders, military, veterans, etc.) for the chance at a VIP Packers Weekend Experience. While 287 brands and 100% of teams have a cause-related asset built into their NFL sponsorship agreements, only eight brands and 22% of NFL teams have a local and/or community charitable element in their sponsorship agreements. This local outreach is on brand with Pit Boss Grill’s integrity and values. 

Athletes as Influencers

Athletes, with their built-in fan bases, have always been influencers. But in today’s creator-driven economy, their impact is even greater. Pit Boss learned this firsthand through their relationship with Hailie Deegan of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. With her branded Instagram post, Pit Boss achieved 91,000 engagements, making it the company’s top-branded social post by over 70,000.

Pit Boss leveraged learnings from its partnership with Deegan when looking for players to augment the new NFL partnerships. They decided to sign agreements with Ravens legend Ed Reed and Packers running back Aaron Jones. This is the fourth endorsement deal for Reed and the 14th for Jones, and Pit Boss is excited to capitalize on the fan base and IP of both players. 

Kicking Off the New NFL Partnerships

Pit Boss is teaming up with both the Ravens and Packers to run a sweepstakes promoting the new NFL partnerships. This isn’t the first brand–rights holder partnership to use a chance-to-win strategy to ignite consumer interest and capture data. As a matter of fact, across all major pro sports, 1,148 brands have added a sweepstakes to their sponsorship asset mix. However, within brand–NFL partnerships, only 298 brands have included a sweepstakes as a part of their NFL sponsorship package, and Pit Boss is the only grill brand to engage consumers in this way.

To kick off the new partnerships, some lucky fans will win the ultimate game day experience: A catered tailgate party at the respective fields—M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (hosted by retired Ravens legend Ed Reed) and Lambeau Field in Green Bay—complete with a delicious barbecue spread from Pit Boss Chef, game tickets and parking passes, a Pit Boss Pellet Grill and accessory package, an autographed jersey, and more.

*Both of these brand awareness numbers are from a NASCAR-sponsored survey of its fanbase.

All other numbers are proprietary first-party data from the SponsorUnited platform.

When it comes to social engagement, few names ring as loud Kansas City Chiefs QB, Patrick Mahomes. The young, dynamic player has not only made waves in the sports world but has also established a dominating presence on social media platforms. His vibrant personality, coupled with his exceptional talent, has resulted in an astonishing following across various social media platforms.

Across Instagram (IG), Facebook (FB), and other platforms (X), Mahomes boasts a staggering follower count of 9.5 million. This not only speaks volumes about his popularity but also reflects the influence he wields in the virtual world. Each post is met with a flood of likes and comments, thus amplifying his reach and impact.

The prowess of Mahomes' social engagement is further amplified when it comes to branded content. He has managed to amass a whopping 3.5 million engagements with his branded posts. This is a testament to the trust and value brands place in his persona, and how effectively he can engage his fans and followers through sponsored content.

The impressive numbers Mahomes has achieved in social media engagement have made him a hot favorite among brands for endorsements, with 16 partnerships. His charm, combined with his ability to connect with fans, has made him a desirable ambassador for many notable brands. adidas, Oakley, Hugo Boss and Coors Light are the top brands when ranking by total social engagement on his branded posts.

With anticipation for the new NFL season reaching a fever pitch as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Detroit Lions tonight at Arrowhead Stadium to officially kick it off, brands are eagerly eyeing buzzy new partnerships with league athletes. But beyond on-field success, savvy marketers need to consider these star players’ other attributes—like social media performance—especially if social is a key component of a brand's campaign asset mix. With the league already tracking to blow past its record staggering 100M social media engagement record set last year, 69% of NFL player deals currently include a social media asset. Let’s take a closer look at some of football’s social superstars.

Garnering a dazzling 6.1M in total engagement from 36 unique branded posts, Tyreek Hill leads the league in engagement across all social media. The Miami Dolphins wide receiver’s TikTok post with Soul Runner, in which he ran track for the first time since college, scored the highest engagement of all NFL player posts last year with 3.6M, while the Hill/Soul Runner campaign was also the most engaging campaign between a player and sponsor, at 5.8M. The 2020 Super Bowl champion partners with 8 brands–adidas, Hublot, and Manscaped among them.

Patrick Mahomes takes second place with total engagement of 3.2M across 47 posts. With more than 20 deals with brands including Oakley, State Farm, and Walmart, the two-time Super Bowl Champion and MVP has the most partnerships and highest engagement of all NFL quarterbacks, as he prepares to lead his team in its quest for a fourth championship ring and back-to-back Super Bowl victories. 

George Kittle scores the third spot with 1.6M in engagement across 30 unique posts, making him the tight end with the highest engagement in the league. The 49ers player’s sponsorship stable includes 18 deals with brands like Adobe, Bud Light, and Playstation. Little Caesars recently partnered with Kittle on a series of commercials to activate its partnership as the league’s Official Pizza Sponsor for the second consecutive year.

Kittle’s teammate Christian McCaffrey takes the title of the NFL’s most engaging running back on social media, with 61K across 10 posts. The Colorado native endorses 7 brands, including BodyArmor, Dolce & Gabbana, and Hyperice.

Cade York has the highest engagement of any NFL kicker, totaling 13K with 3 posts. The Tennessee Titans player has deals with Sarchione Auto Gallery and Russell’s BBQ.

NFL buzz is building as the start of the regular season approaches: over the last five months, the league and its teams have generated nearly 45M in total branded social engagement with over 7,780 posts across Instagram, TikTok, X, and Facebook. With the season yet to begin, and total engagement already nearly half of what we saw in the 2022-23 season—it seems assured that the upcoming season will blow past the dazzling 100M mark set last year.

Notably, the NFL's collaboration with EA Sports commands over 10% of total engagement–more than 4.7M followers and counting. has sponsored the Dallas Cowboys' offseason signings and trade news on the team’s social channels, propelling the Cowboys’ engagement numbers to the top of the league. The campaign's 48 posts so far have helped drive total engagement past 1.7M.

As NFL training camps continue throughout the pre-season, brands aim to engage fans and enhance their experience via interactive activations. Park Dental’s activation with the Minnesota Vikings this summer, for example, gave fans the opportunity to try their hand at mini-golf. 

Photo opportunities–whether virtual or in person–are another compelling asset. The Buffalo Bills’ “Get Your Groove On” activation with M&T Bank gave fans a chance to dance virtually with team mascot Billy Buffalo, while McDonald’s unveiled a  “Big Mac Sack” photo opp at the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp, which dovetailed with its long-running campaign offering buy one, get one free Big Macs in the KC area the day after the Chiefs sack the opposing quarterback.  And further west, the Los Angeles Chargers joined forces with Oakley for a photo opp with a backdrop featuring some of the team’s stars.

For many kids, the chance to play sports on a professional field is the thrill of a lifetime–and the Chicago Bears teamed up with Advocate Children’s Hospital to offer them just that. The “Mini Monsters Drills” at Bears training camp gave little fans the chance to run drills similar to those the players do–a fun, fitness-themed activation that the Buffalo Bills also offered to kids in partnership with local health plan provider, Independent Health.

Further downstate, the New York Jets gave little ones a different take on fitness with a bounce house sponsored by chocolate brand, Kinder.

Meanwhile, Cigna sponsored the Denver Broncos FIT program at the team’s training camp, which featured a “Shuttle Run, Kick and Toss” activation, designed to encourage fans to get moving. 

Watch this space for more inspired regular season activations sure to engage legions of fans both in attendance and on social media.

NFL SPRED Report 2023

April 27, 2023

Social media plays an increasingly crucial role in the marketability of pro athletes and potential draftees, as well as their ability to engage fans–a phenomenon we examine in our second NFL Social Performance Ranking of Endorsement Deals (SPRED) Report for 2023.

Published just ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, the report includes an in-depth analysis of brand endorsements and social engagement across nearly 425 NFL athletes. Compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform, the data encompasses more than 700 brands, 1,400 deals, and 2,375 social posts.

Comprising a wide array of player, brand, and category social metrics, the report reveals a host of interesting insights. Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson, for example, tops the list of most active players with 77 branded posts in the last 12 months, and ranks second in gross followers, total engagement, and brand collaborations–but fails to crack the top 25 by engagement rate (average % of likes, shares, and comments on branded posts). Meanwhile, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill leads the league in total engagement and average engagement (average number of likes, shares, and comments received on each post).

Among brands, sports betting company DraftKings boasts both the most player endorsements and most promoted posts across NFL athletes, but falls to 9th in total engagement, where adidas takes the #1 spot. On the category front, Retail and Apparel & Accessories rank in the top 3 by average engagement, total engagement, and endorsements (most brands and most promoted posts by NFL players), while Consumer Electronics reigns supreme in average engagement.  

The report also ranks the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects based on the number of endorsement deals signed by these college football standouts, selected by ESPN as the likely 1st and 2nd round picks as of April 25th. The rankings reveal that QBs dominate the top of the prospect list, taking the top three spots and five out of the top seven overall–and suggest that QBs are highly coveted not only by NFL teams, but also by brands looking to partner with the next generation of NFL stars.

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII–the most-watched NFL championship game in six years, with an average audience of 113M–offered brands the unique opportunity to reach fans with splashy, statement-making campaigns on a global stage.

NFL sponsors chose an array of activations during the broadcast, including featured segments, billboard/ad/logo pop-ups, and naming rights for key elements–like the Apple Music Halftime Show.

More than 15 brands leveraged one of the above assets in Super Bowl LVII:

  • Amazon
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Apple Music
  • Bud Light
  • Crown Royal
  • General Motors
  • Google Pixel
  • Jeep
  • M&M’s
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Pepsi Zero Sugar
  • RAM
  • T-Mobile
  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • Youtube TV

On the broadcast front, 46 brands featured more than 100 celebrities in hotly anticipated  commercials throughout the game–most of which mark the start of multifaceted campaigns that include social posts, additional ads, and other activations.  

NFL Sports Betting Revenue Skyrocketed 40% in 2022

Russell Wilson and Austin Ekeler were Social Media's Most Endorsed NFL Athletes

The NFL 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report offers a comprehensive view of the sponsorship and endorsement landscape within the NFL this year. Compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from June 2022 through January 2023, the report analyzed NFL sponsorships across the league, teams, and individual athletes.

"Rather than relying on a handful of household brands to grow revenues, NFL teams are driving exponential growth by diversifying their brand partners,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “Ticketing, Insurance, and Healthcare were the leading brand categories in terms of revenue growth this season. The NFL’s sponsor portfolio isn’t slowing down anytime soon, as emergent categories like Sports Betting and Wine & Spirits are expected to increase their spend in the years ahead.”

Key findings from the report include:

Sports betting’s explosive growth unlocks new revenue opportunities

Sports Betting has become a key revenue stream for the NFL, increasing 40% across teams. Sports Betting deals have quadrupled in the last four years (2019-2022), while gambling companies accelerated their ad spend last year. More than 25 NFL teams now have at least one Sports Betting or Daily Fantasy Sport sponsor. Last year, the Buffalo Bills announced a multi-year partnership with FanDuel as their official mobile sports betting partner. Other notable brand sponsors include BetMGM, Bally’s, Betfred, and Bet365.

Russell Wilson leads Austin Ekeler as social media’s most endorsed athlete

Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos leads social media branded endorsements with 22 deals, closely trailed by the LA Chargers’ Austin Ekeler with 21 social deals. While Wilson’s social following dwarfs that of the Chargers running back (14M vs. 320K, respectively), Ekeler’s deal volume reflects his considerable appeal to brand partners, given his on-field performance and ability to reach new audiences as an influencer in the esports space. Wilson and Ekeler are the only NFL players with over 20 social brand deals. The next most-endorsed players include the Kansas City Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster (15 endorsements) and Travis Kelce (14 endorsements), and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks (13 endorsements).

NFL team sponsorship revenue reaches new heights this season

Sponsorship revenue totaled $2.05B across the 32 NFL teams in the 2022-2023 season–a new league record, and a 14% increase year-over-year. When combined with the league as a whole, total sponsorship revenue was $2.7B. Key growth drivers include the Apple Music Halftime Show and new sponsors like Socios and regional Healthcare brands.

Alcohol brands lead in deal volume

Led by spirit brands, Alcohol again topped the category list for brand spend, with 333 sponsorships across NFL teams and the league as a whole. Technology brands came in second with 218 sponsorships, and Food Products brands third with 177 deals. While the Alcohol category led by number of deals across the league and teams, it was second in revenue for team-only deals with $170M, trailing the first-place Finance category with $210M and topping Healthcare at $145M.

The NFL is going global in a big way

The league’s ambitious strategy to grow its international footprint took a giant leap forward with the launch of its international home marketing areas (IHMA) initiative in January 2022, granting teams access to foreign territories for marketing and fan engagement. Currently, 19 teams have access to 30 IMHA’s across 10 countries–led by the Los Angeles Rams (4), Miami Dolphins (3), and the Philadelphia Eagles (3). The goal: to become a global powerhouse by growing its fan base 26% to a staggering 240M worldwide, and focusing on key international markets like the UK and Germany. By hosting games and sponsored events and investing in youth football programs overseas, the NFL is actively cultivating its next generation of fans.

Jointly authored by SponsorUnited’s Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Marketing Departments, the report offers an in-depth analysis of more than 4,000 brands, 350 athletes, 3,100 deals, and 34,000 posts between the league, clubs, athletes, and brands during the 2022 season.

Only four teams remain as we head to the NFL Conference Championships this Sunday–one of the biggest days in football in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, while the Kansas City Chiefs will host 2022 Super Bowl finalists, the Cincinnati Bengals, for the AFC title.

How do these teams stack up within the league on the partnership front? The Eagles rank 10th by sponsorship deals, followed by the 49ers at #16, the Bengals at #18, and the Chiefs in the 31st spot.

Among the four remaining teams, three have playoff presenting sponsors:

  • 49ers: United is the team's top playoffs sponsor, while SAP, Zennni, & Cisco Systems also endorse the West Coast powerhouse.
  • Eagles: ACME Markets
  • Bengals: N/A
  • Chiefs: Bud Light

The Philadelphia Eagles, flying high after a stellar season, have a total social following of 11M across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, making them the 5th most followed NFL club. The team secured 105 sponsorship deals this year–including Lincoln Financial, Bud Light, and Toyota–up from 97 last season. The Eagles' top sponsorship categories are Beverage - Alcohol, Food Products, and Technology.

With a total social following of 9.9M, the San Francisco 49ers are the 8th most followed team in the league, and count United, Levi's, and SAP among their more than 90 brand partnerships. Technology, Beverage - Alcohol, and Media lead the Niners' list of sponsorship categories.

Super Bowl LIV Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, take the 10th spot on the social media list with 8.9M followers. The Chiefs boast more than 60 partnerships this season–including GEHA, T-Mobile, and Hy-Vee–while their top categories are Beverage - Alcohol, Retail, and Education.

The 23rd most followed NFL team, the Cincinnati Bengals' social fandom stands at 5.3M. With just under 90 sponsorships, the Bengals inked a new naming rights deal this year with HR & payroll solution provider PayCor before the season began.

To wrap up 2022 with a bang, the NFL announced a multi-year agreement with Google last month, granting YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels exclusive distribution rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket to consumers in the U.S., starting with the 2023-2024 season. By comparing NFL’s broadcast deals, we can begin to predict which brands will likely buy into this blockbuster partnership.

The league currently partners with three streaming platforms: Paramount Plus, Peacock, and Amazon Prime Video. With 14 brands buying digital assets across all three, we can expect some of these brands and categories to also invest in its YouTube deal.

Brands that currently advertise across all three of NFL’s three streaming partners:

  • FanDuel
  • State Farm
  • Little Caesars Pizza
  • Airbnb
  • VISA
  • Apple
  • Google Pixel
  • Burger King
  • NerdWallet
  • Chipotle
  • Toyota
  • DirecTV
  • Dove

Most active brand categories:

  • Financial
  • Quick Serve Restaurants
  • Auto
  • Media
  • Insurance
  • Consumer Products
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Healthcare

The Prediction:

A deal with YouTubeTV gives brands a unique opportunity to reach a younger audience of NFL fans. According to a December 2022 survey by Morning Consult, YouTube is the #1 source of sports news for Gen Zers at 31%, vs. 21% of all U.S. adults. We expect current NFL broadcast partners that already target a younger audience to follow suit on YouTubeTV. In this first season of Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” streaming partnership, viewership in the prized 18-to-34 demographic was up 11% over TNF the previous season.

Will brands that target younger audiences and currently spend on Fortnite, Roblox, Decentraland, and other emerging platforms also invest in the NFL’s YouTube deal? Time will tell. Meanwhile, last month the NFL continued its own metaverse exploration with the launch of NFL Zone, a dynamic interactive fan experience built in Fortnite Creative.

Brands targeting younger audiences on emerging platforms:

  • Oral B
  • Xbox
  • Doritos
  • Axe
  • Fall Guys
  • Marvel Entertainment
  • Nerf
  • Chipotle
  • Warner Bros

Every year, the NFL and its teams present thousands of activations–including in-person venue exhibitions–that drive sky-high exposure for the sponsoring brands. Let’s take a look at some of the top NFL activations from the 2022-23 season.

In terms of showstopping in-venue activations, few topped the Heineken Highline, a 1500-foot gondola that gives fans a 20-minute, bird’s-eye view of Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Further north, the huge Jack Daniel’s Barrel Christmas Tree on the concourse of the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium turned heads around the holidays. Meanwhile, as the exclusive real estate partner of the Arizona Cardinals through 2024, offers attending fans the chance to appear on the 72Sold Selfie Cam by scanning a QR Code on the jumbotron.

The NFL introduced a new sponsorship category by announcing E. & J. Gallo Winery as the league’s official wine sponsor in a multi-branded, multi-year agreement. As one of the season’s buzziest deals, Amazon Prime Video’s purchase of Thursday Night Football yielded broadcast assets including Next Gen Stats powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Electric Moments presented by Mercedes-Benz, the Pregame Prep sponsored by Little Caesars Pizza, and the TNF Three-Play segment sponsored by DraftKings.

NFL activations overseas were similarly successful. Online trading platform IG was named Presenting Partner of the three 2022 regular season games in London, while paint brand Valspar became the NFL’s Official Colour Partner in the UK & Ireland. Deutsche Kreditbank AG (DKB) presented the league’s first-ever regular season game in Germany–a sold-out face-off between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks, where consumer electronics retailer Cyberport served as the Official Lead Entertainment Partner and Exclusive Presenting Sponsor of the pregame and halftime shows.

Other notable partnerships:

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals both announced new naming rights deals with fintech giant Acrisure and HR software provider Paycor, respectively. The partnerships saw the two AFC North rivals rename stadiums that stood for at least two decades: the Steelers’ Heinz Field became Acrisure Stadium, while Paycor Stadium replaced Paul Brown Stadium as the Bengals’ home.

Pepsi’s longtime sponsorship of the Super Bowl Halftime Show wrapped up in spectacular fashion at Super Bowl LVI, with an epic finale featuring Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Mary J Blidge, and Kendrick Lamar. In a renewed league partnership announced in September, the soft drink giant debuted the “Pepsi 18 Week Pack”–a tiny, tricked-out home offering one lucky fan the ultimate football watching experience for the entire 2022 NFL season through a sweepstakes with Instacart. The same month, a viral social media post featuring Rihanna unveiled Apple Music as the Super Bowl Halftime Show’s new sponsor.

Power Five Schools Net $557M in Sponsorship Revenues Allocated for Football

The SEC attracted more than 27% of the total sponsorship revenue this season

The Power Five football teams (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and the SEC) earned $557M in sponsorship revenues for the 2022-2023 season. On average, each school yielded $8.6M in sponsorship revenue during the football season.

The top five teams in terms of sponsorship revenue within the Power Five are, in no particular order, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas and Ohio State. The SEC (led by Alabama, Georgia and LSU) was the top conference in revenues ($156M), accounting for over 27% of total football sponsorship money spent across the 65 Power Five schools.

The categories with the most number of sponsorship deals include:

  1. Banks
  1. Restaurants
  1. Insurance
  1. Soft Drink
  1. Hotels/Resorts

The top 10 brands with the highest number of sponsorship deals include:

  1. Allstate
  1. Coca-Cola
  1. Nike
  1. Old Dominion
  1. Nissan
  1. Stubhub
  1. Ford
  1. Jersey Mike’s
  1. Pepsi
  1. Toyota

"College football provides one of the few places in sports where local and national brand partnerships converge," said Bob Lynch, founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. "In this sport, brands are able to leverage highly-relevant, multi-channel platforms–such as TV-visible signage for national broadcasts and local community events–to reach passionate fans and alumni."

NFL Exceeds $2B in Sponsorship Revenue for the 2022-2023 Regular Season

Sponsorship revenue grew 14% year-over-year, with key emerging brand categories including Media, Finance and Hotels/Restaurants

Reaching an all-time high across both digital and physical assets, we estimate the total sponsorship revenue across NFL teams (32) is $2.05B and $2.7B when combined with sponsorships for the league as a whole.

This season’s sponsorship revenue greatly surpasses the 2021-2022 season, which was $1.8B across NFL teams. Key attributions to the growth include the Apple Music Halftime Show, continued globalization efforts–the NFL now allows teams to sell intellectual property rights overseas–and adding crypto companies like and to the sponsorship portfolio.

The top 5 NFL teams with the highest number of sponsorship deals include:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars - 170+
  1. Dallas Cowboys - 140+
  1. Buffalo Bills - 135+
  1. Indianapolis Colts - 125+
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 120+

The top 5 NFL athletes with the highest number of sponsorship deals include:

  1. Russell Wilson
  1. Austin Ekeler
  1. Juju Smith-Schuster
  1. AJ Dillon
  1. Tyler Lockett

The top 5 categories with the most number of sponsorship deals include:

  1. Alcohol
  1. Tech
  1. Media
  1. Food Products
  1. Auto

The Alcohol category expanded its investments through a new, revised deal with AB InBev. The beverage company, Diageo, led the NFL's spirits category and the rapidly growing ready-to-drink cocktail category. Media, a new category this year according to our ProTool, quickly became one of the most popular in terms of deal volume. Additional new categories emerging this year include Finance (Credit Card Solutions) and Hotels/Restaurants.

“The NFL continues to impress with not only the amount of sponsorship revenue, but the diversification of industries leveraging those partnerships,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “As teams have expanded their content and marketing platforms both within and outside of the team, it’s allowed them to expand the number of sponsors they can deliver unique and creative solutions to. Athlete partnerships have also opened the door to more brands seeking viable ways to reach the NFL fan and activate in more dynamic ways.”

NFL Christmas Games

December 23, 2022

The National Football League will have its first-ever Christmas Day tripleheader this year.

Take a look at how the competing team's social game and sponsorship portfolio compare.

Since the NFL calendar year kicked off last April, the league and its teams have amassed over 14K branded posts on social media, engaging more than 39M followers. Some 1,225 deals have been activated across social channels during the same period.

How does this compare to NFL athletes over the last 12 months? Players have activated 1,707 partnerships via social media across 3,099 posts for a total engagement of nearly 42M. On average, the league and teams have been more active on social media so far this season than the players themselves.

Thanks to their team partnerships, 828 brands have been showcased on social media since the season’s start. Technology tops the category list by number of posts, closely followed by Alcohol, Financial, and Healthcare.

The top 5 brands by post frequency so far:

  • Bud Light
  • Gatorade
  • EA Sports
  • Microsoft Surface

Meanwhile, 848 brands have had a post with NFL athletes over the last year. For player posts, Apparel & Accessories leads the way by industry, followed by Retail and Non-Alcoholic beverages. Bud Light is the only crossover among the top 5 brands:

  • DraftKings
  • Bose
  • Bud Light
  • Lowe’s
  • Sleep Number

The NFL season is prime time for players to showcase their brand partnerships across social media.

The top 5 posts by players and their brand partners (by engagement in September):

  1. Tyreek Hill x Soul Runner (102K)
  1. Josh Allen x New Era Cap (97K)
  1. Justin Jefferson x Oakley (82K)
  1. Chase Claypool x Jordan Brand (50K)
  1. Justin Jefferson x Optimum Nutrition (47K)

Teams are also leveraging their endorsement deals on social as the season heads into its 5th week.

The top 5 posts by teams and their brand partners (by engagement in September):

NFL x Verizon (484K)

  1. Miami Dolphins x Gatorade (203K)
  1. Dallas Cowboys x Winstar World Casino & Resort (131K)
  1. Pittsburgh Steelers x Gatorade (116K)
  1. Dallas Cowboys x Bank of America (111K)

Last week, the NFL announced Apple Music as the new Super Bowl Halftime Show sponsor, replacing longtime sponsor Pepsi who leveraged the halftime show for 10 years. Superstar Rihanna was also named as the show’s headliner for the upcoming Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, on February 12, 2023.

With nearly 350M social media followers across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, Rihanna ranks 6th within music artists on social according to SponsorUnited’s recent Music Artist Report. Rihanna also ranks 6th in engagement, averaging 1.2M likes/comments/shares across her 30+ branded social posts over the last year. Her most engaged social post–with Savage x Fenty, a brand she founded with TechStyle Fashion Group–has over 5.5M engagements since January 17th. Notably, of the top 25 most engaging music artists ranked in the report, 20 are female.

Speaking of Rihanna and Savage x Fenty, music artists are increasingly betting big on their own brands–and winning. 4 of the top 5 brands with the highest social engagement during the last 12 months were Rare Beauty (Selena Gomez), JLO Beauty (Jennifer Lopez), r.e.m. beauty (Ariana Grande) and Savage x Fenty. Of the top 50 most engaging brands, those owned by artists garnered more attention.

And while music artists have long added value to Cosmetics, Clothing and Alcohol brands, artists like Timbaland, Kanye West, and Dua Lipa are already charting the future of artist ownership in new categories.

Timbaland’s Beatclub, a digital platform for music artists, aims to revolutionize the way music makers connect. Kanye West’s sports marketing agency, Donda Sports, now represents clients like NBA star Jaylen Brown and NFL star Aaron Donald. And superstar Dua Lipa released her first weekly lifestyle newsletter, Service95, in February 2022.

The AFC West matchup tonight between two potential Super Bowl contenders–the Los Angeles Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs–features a slew of players who have taken advantage of the teams’ success by locking in endorsement deals.

KC Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has the most deals of any player in this game with 24. An avid online gamer, he partners with HyperX and Nerd Street Games, and has secured other deals thanks to his skyrocketing fame on TikTok, where his followers total more than 3M. JuJu’s branded posts on the platform include SoFi, HyperIce, Yahoo Sports, Snickers, and 7-Eleven.

LA Chargers star running back Austin Ekeler literally leads the charge for his team with more than 20 partnerships, among them SteelSeries, American Airlines, Shock Doctor, and Sleep Number. He’s leveraging his burgeoning social following–which has grown more than 70% since 2021–by posting about each partner brand, with posts and engagement totaling 81 and over 560K, respectively.

Notably, 5 of Ekeler’s sponsors also have deals with players on the Chiefs:

  • Sleep Number: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Chipotle: George Karlaftis
  • Verizon & Bud Light: Juju Smith-Schuster
  • StateFarm: Patrick Mahomes

Meanwhile, chances are top-tier quarterback talents Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert will be facing off for many years to come, both on the field and in the sponsorship arena.

Mahomes’ 8M+-strong social following dwarfs third-year starting QB Herbert’s 500K–though Herbert’s star continues to rise, as evidenced by his following’s 55% increase this past year. And while Mahomes has more deals, his average engagement rate of 1.1% is a mere fraction of Herbert’s, which stuns at a whopping 9.86%.

Both Mahomes and Herbert have deals with Bose, which saw its highest total engagement on social media with the star quarterbacks this year. Mahomes' top post with the audio giant, on January 27th, totaled over 330K likes/comments on Instagram, while Herbert's January 8th Instagram post engaged more than 100K followers. Bose made noise on social media during the 2021-22 NFL playoffs, posting more than 10 times with participating players.

The 2022 NCAA football season begins this weekend with this year's "Week 0" games.

We highlight collegiate football athletes this year who have already amassed a large NIL endorsement portfolio.

The National Football League (NFL) is back with the first pre-season game of the 2022-23 season taking place tonight.

Which social media partnerships this offseason were the most successful ranked by average engagement per post? Swipe below to find out!

The 2022 NFL offseason has provided prime opportunities for brands keen to raise their social media profile since the NFL Free agency began in March. With the preseason kicking off tonight, let’s break down the engagement numbers.

Since March 1, more than 650 deals have been promoted on social channels across the league and its teams, totaling north of 6,400 posts thus far. With an average of 10 posts per brand, total engagement (likes, shares, or comments) across all deals tops 17.5 million, or just over 25,000 engagements per deal.

Not surprisingly, the two leading social media partnerships were with last season’s Super Bowl rivals, the LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. The fact that Rams posts took four of the top 10 slots by average engagement underscores the offseason benefits reaped by brands partnering with Super Bowl champions.

The Rams also top the list of brand deals with a 3-post minimum. The team’s partnership with Nike has tallied more than 45,000 average engagements across 7 posts, for a total of more than 315,000 followers.

Lesser-known companies like Swift Meats also were able to garner exceptional exposure in their deals with the Bengals. With 8 posts overall–which showcased the new “White Bengal” helmet, debuting this year–Swift Meat’s total engagement stands at 250,000, an average of just over 31,000 per post.

Rounding out the top 5 most successful social media partnerships from the Draft through July 31st were the Atlanta Falcons and Coca-Cola, the New York Giants and Invisalign, and the Denver Broncos and Chevron, respectively. With a minimum of 3 posts, each saw per-post engagement of more than 20,000 followers.

NFL Draft Report

May 4, 2022

There was a lot of buzz around the NFL Draft over the weekend and while the new draftees were the true winners,  brands came in a close second. SponsorUnited has released the 2022 NFL Draft Sponsorship Report where you can take a deeper dive into the partnership deals between brands, teams and players.

Some of the key insights include:

  • Tech and Apparel made up ⅓ of all deals among first round picks
  • Wide receivers caught the most deals, but EDGE players tackled the most brands
  • Rookies from Ohio State, Georgia and Oregon closed the most deals (40% of all deals)

Gain key insights around broadcast sponsorships, draft party sponsorships, player deals and more in SponsorUnited’s 2022 NFL Draft Report.

NFL SPRED Report 2021

April 28, 2022

Today, SponsorUnited published the first SPRED Report centered around NFL player’s social performance and endorsement deals.

Download the complete report HERE, for complete data and insights, some key findings include:

  • adidas and Bose are the most active brands among NFL social media posts but Zenith Watches, Grip and Brady Brand attract the most attention.
  • Quarterbacks are most widely followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook while TikTok varies among other skilled positions.
  • J.J. Watt is the most followed defensive NFL player and the most followed NFL player to not win a SB.
  • The top 10 most followed NFL players combine for over 100M gross followers.
  • 12 NFL players average over 1M total engagements, all of them on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Although Travis Etienne Jr, has yet to see the field, he has the highest % average engaged followers.
  • Most Total Gross Followers: Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Most Twitter Followers: Russell Wilson
  • Most Facebook Followers: Tom Brady
  • Most Instagram Followers: Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Most TikTok Followers: Gronk
  • Most Engaging: Patrick Mahomes
  • Highest % of Engaged Followers: Travis Etienne
  • Most Engagement Per Post: Tyreek Hill
  • Most Branded Posts: Russell Wilson
  • Most Brands: Russell Wilson
  • Highest Avg Engagement: Zenith Watches, Grip Boost and Brady Brand
  • Most Branded Posts: adidas, Bose and Fashion Nova
  • Most Brand Engagements: Bose, adidas and Oakley
  • Most Player Endorsements: Bud Light, Verizon, Bose and Under Armour
  • Most Engaging Categories: Apparel/Accessories, Beverage (Non-Alc) and Leisure/Recreation
  • Most Category Engagements: Apparel/Accessories, Consumer Electronics and Retail
  • Most Player Endorsements: Apparel/Accessories, Retail and Beverage (Non-Alc)
  • Most Branded Posts: Apparel/Accessories, Retail and Beverage (Non-Alc)

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft took place last night and 32 of the top prospects can officially see their dreams, and dollar signs, in their future. This is the first NFL Draft where college players had almost a full year to sign endorsement deals, rather than the few weeks leading up to the Draft. Check out the top 50 NFL Draft prospects and the brands they have deals with. In total, these top 50 Draft prospects have partnered with over 75 brands.

Which brands made the top of the list?

Company NameNumber of Prospects Partnered WithBose4Dr. Pepper4Sleep Number4Chipotle3Raising Cane’s3USAA3

The NFL Endorsements landscape is a highly popular area among sponsors of the league. Three of the brands on this list not only are league sponsors but are big contributors to the NFL Endorsements landscape. Bose features 26 different NFL athletes on their endorsements roster including big names such as Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Micah Parsons. Sleep Number has 16 NFL Athletes as a part of their team with Dak Prescott, Deebo Samuel and Mac Jones topping off the list. Lastly, USAA features 15 NFL athletes with the likes of Josh Allen, Rob Gronkowski, and TJ Watt on their endorsements roster.

The 2022 NFL Draft class features greatness both on and off the field. Five players in particular have taken full advantage of obtaining endorsement deals with over 6 deals each. Kayvon Thibodeaux has the most endorsement deals of the bunch with 11. Some of the most notable brands to partner with Thibodeaux include Beats by Dre, Old Spice and Snickers. Tied with the second most endorsement deals are defensive standouts Aiden Hutchinson and Demarvin Leal. With eight deals each, Bose and Chipotle partnered with Hutchinson while FTX and Fanjoy partnered with Leal. The final two players in the top five include Chris Olave with seven deals and Derek Stingley Jr. with six deals who both feature deals with the popular quick serve restaurant Raising Cane’s.

Last week, SponsorUnited released the NFL 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report.

We highlight Roblox, Tide and FaZe Clan to showcase the power of unique activations within the NFL. Download the full report at for complete insights into NFL brand partnerships last season.

NFL Controversy and Winning

No press is bad press. Whether you went big or went home, NFL players social stats were likely to increase.

To uncover more surrounding NFL players and their partnerships, followers, social engagement, and more, download the FREE NFL 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at

STAMFORD, Conn., March 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, SponsorUnited, the leading data platform for sports and entertainment, released the first NFL Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report from the 2021 season. This report highlights trends in sponsorships surrounding the National Football League, teams, athletes, and media partners. Uncover data on over 7,000 NFL partnership deals and over 3,600 active brands buying sponsorships and media in the NFL. The complete report is available now at

Key learnings from the report include:

NFL team sponsorships saw a major bounce back, adding $600MM in revenues to achieve 57% growth from 2020 and 14% growth from 2019.
Four categories drove over a quarter of the sponsorship revenue in the NFL: Finance, Healthcare, Alcohol, and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.

Players saw a huge growth in endorsement deals.
Over 1,000 brands had player endorsements deals, growing 51% year over year. The most active brands were Verizon, adidas, BodyArmor, Nike, and Bud Light. Fastest growing categories were Apparel, Technology and Financial.

More than 1 out of 5 sponsorship deals were tied to cause & community-related initiatives, doubling since 2019.
Youth-related initiatives, focused on education and health, was the most supported cause by NFL teams. Everfi was the most active brand, with the Financial, Healthcare and Technology categories most likely to tie into a cause.

Controversy and winning drove social follower growth.
Antonio Brown, Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers saw the largest gain in followers since the pre-season, while the Dallas Cowboys, LA Rams and Las Vegas Raiders gained the most followers amongst teams.

Sports Betting, Crypto and Tech are driving league growth and interest.
Sports Betting saw the largest expansion in sponsorship and media deals for the 2nd year in a row, at an 83%+ increase. Cryptocurrency was the most searched category by NFL executives on the SponsorUnited platform.

For a deeper look, and to access many other insights, download the SponsorUnited NFL 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at

The top ranking NFL players in terms of endorsements during the 2021 season were: Rob Gronkowski, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Russell Wilson, and Travis Kelce. Each player has over 25 brand deals; Gronk leads the way with 30 deals leveraging his 8.7 million social followers. He ranked #7 among NFL athletes for most social followers. Gronk has starred in commercials for T-Mobile alongside longtime teammate, Tom Brady. He also has appeared in a Wolf & Shepherd commercial and USAA. Although having the most deals, the highest average engagement per post comes from rival tight end, Travis Kelce, who has a 4.33% avg engagement compared to Gronk’s .78%. Russell Wilson leads the group in total engagement with over 3 million likes/shares.

Over 1,000 brands had endorsement deals with NFL players during the 2021 season, a big uptick from 2020 seeing a 51% increase. The most active brands partnering with players were Verizon, adidas, BodyArmor, Nike, and Bud Light, while the fastest growing categories were Apparel, Technology and Financial.

The average engagement per branded post for players was 12.6K compared to the slightly higher engagement for teams with 14.5K. For players with a minimum of 10 branded posts, the average engagement was 16K, inferring that the most active NFL athletes are getting more engagement on posts than teams.

NFL Social Engagement

Over 1,000 brands signed endorsement deals with NFL athletes during the 2021 season, a big uptick from 2020 seeing a 51% increase.

To unpack the rest of the NFL 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Report, visit to download the FREE report.

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, Bose Corporation ranked #1 in total posts (with players and teams) while Lexus had the highest average engagement per post.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the release of the NFL 2021 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report.

Trending NFL teams and players with the largest social follower gain in the month of January:

10) Green Bay Packers (+84,758)

9) Marcedes Lewis (+85,180)

8) Pittsburgh Steelers (+96,982)

7) San Francisco 49ers (+101,041)

6) Kansas City Chiefs (+103,943)

5) Dallas Cowboys (+120,933)

4) Cincinnati Bengals (+128,556)

3) Tom Brady (+184,022)

2) Odell Beckham Jr. (+343,053)

1) Antonio Brown (+961,136)

On a related note, Brown actually picked up more followers than the NFL league social accounts (+961k vs +921k).

The term "Any Press is Good Press" rang true during the month of January in the NFL. Antonio Brown quit on the Buccaneers mid-game, then saw the largest growth in social media followers. Brown currently optimizes his social media following partnering with six brands, three within the apparel and accessories category. He has also entered the NFT space with Spooky Boys Country Club. Brown's highest engaged post comes on Instagram with Skeleton Concept having an engagement score of over 130,000 per the SponsorUnited platform.

Interesting to see that within the top four of the list, two social media accounts will be represented in the Super Bowl, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals accounts. The 13 brands that OBJ has a partnership with leverage his nearly 20 million followers across social media. Recently, OBJ signed a deal with Cash App in which he'll get paid in Bitcoin during his tenure with the Rams. He can also be seen promoting the app with a $1 Million giveaway.

NFL Insight

The NFL leads Major Pro Sports for Technology brands in highest total revenue, most unique brands, and have increased their number of sponsorship deals with NFL athletes by over 50.

Bose Corporation, EVERFI, Microsoft Surface, and EA SPORTS have a prominent presence in the NFL working with 30+ properties each.

Want to learn more about technology brand's presence in the Major Pro Sports? Download the Technology Annual Report for FREE now at

The NFL playoffs are here after the first 17-game regular season. Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills will host rookie Mac Jones and the New England Patriots on the CBS Saturday Primetime spot for NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend.

Josh Allen leads the QB matchup on the field as his team won the AFC East and also off the field in total social followers and total partnerships. Working with 14 brands across 12 categories during the 2021-22 season, Allen has notable deals with West Herr, Buffalo Wild Wings and Labatt Blue.

Mac Jones comes in slightly behind Allen with 11 total deals and 70k less social followers. Jones was part of the Bose NFL Draft 2021 campaign which featured the five rookie QB’s selected in the first round including Zach Wilson and #1 Draft pick Trevor Lawrence. Following in former Patriot QB Tom Brady’s footsteps will be no easy feat, but Mac Jones is on his way after a stellar start on and off the field his rookie year.

The players with the most deals in the NFL are Rob Gronkowski and JuJu Smith-Schuster, both have 29 total deals. Gronkowsi has nearly 10 million followers on social media giving his brand partners like Bud Light, Hims & Hers and Hisense tons of visibility. Juju Smith-Schuster, who is known to be a gamer, has over 257,000 followers on Twitch and has deals with tech brands like HyperX, HP, & Microsoft Surface.

Over 890 brands have signed an endorsement deals with a NFL player this season. Adidas leads the way in terms of total deals while Verizon is a close second followed by Nike. On average, each player in the league signed a total of four deals while each brand has an average of three. 77% of all deals include a social media post as brands look to leverage the athletes platforms to attract fans towards their campaigns.

NFL 2021 Wild Card Weekend Patriots vs. Bills

July 2021 was a big month for college athletes. They were granted the ability to sign endorsement deals as part of the new NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) Law that was passed. NIL Endorsement deals gives student athletes the opportunity to begin making money while playing sports in college.

Apparel & Accessory brands took immediate advantage of this opportunity leading the way in total deals with college athletes. Many would assume this means Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour were signing many of these deals. Instead it was emerging brands like Rhoback, PSD Underwear, and Fanjoy which lead the way with the most endorsement deals in the Apparel & Accessory category.

More than 350 brands have signed NIL deals with college athletes. Raising Cane’s is at the top of the list. FTX follows right behind with over 10 deals in the NIL space.

Heading into tonight’s College Football Championship, here are the top four players who have signed the most deals between the two teams this season. Heisman Trophy winner and Alabama star QB, Bryce Young, has the highest social following of the four athletes. It was reported by Alabama head coach, Nick Saban, that Young was making near 7-figures in NIL deals before throwing his first pass this season. Will more brands moving forward take a shot on athletes prior to the season after seeing the success of Bryce Young?

NIL Endorsements NCAA Football Championship
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