SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/E Sports

More diverse revenue boosts NFL Internet

The NFL's effort last off-season to diversify revenue from its Internet operations has brought better-than-expected results for the NFL Internet Network, said Chris Russo, the NFL's senior vice president of new media.

Midway through the first season in which the league began charging for subscriptions to some premium content, is on pace to exceed 100,000 subscriptions to its two new multimedia content packages for the 2003 season, according to Russo.


Industry sources estimate that revenue from subscriptions, advertising, e-commerce, rights fees and content licensing should bring the league's Web operation between $50 million and $60 million for the season, with profits in the eight figures.

That doesn't include revenue from online ticket sales or from individual team sites, some of which bring in as much as $2 million annually, according to team officials.

"We've really focused this year on the monetization side of the equation," Russo said.

The NFL last spring decided to incorporate paid content into its offerings, rolling out two multimedia content packages and two fee-based fantasy football games.

A large chunk of the NFL's Internet revenue comes from a 2001 deal in which AOL (the league's Internet service provider), CBS and agreed to pay the NFL $110 million over five years, according to sources, for a share of the league's Web revenue. The league and AOL before this season altered the terms of their deal so that the NFL is licensing more video content to AOL for its broadband service.

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