SBJ/Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2017/Labor and Agents

Tax return shows success of union’s media content outlet

The NFL Players Association is starting to see financial return from its production and content outlet, ACE Media, which it rolled out in 2015, along with a host of partnerships to distribute the media.

In ACE’s first year, the unit generated several million dollars for the union, according to Ahmad Nasser, president of NFL Players Inc., the NFLPA’s licensing and marketing arm. That means ACE had a much stronger second half than first in its inaugural season.

Per the NFLPA’s recently filed tax return, which covers the first half year of ACE’s operation through Feb. 29, 2016, the unit brought in $123,525, and had assets of $496,662. The asset figures mesh with news articles at the time of launch that the union invested half a million dollars in the endeavor.

“The [tax] report only covers part of the period as you noted so it’s not a full picture,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah wrote in an email. “Some of its revenues were booked through the bigger Players Inc., if they had to do with player appearances.”

The union bills ACE as banking on players’ marketability, and has succeeded in pushing NFL athletes onto TV shows, digital telecasts and other outlets, including The Players’ Tribune, 120 Sports, BET Networks and Bleacher Report.

Given the several million dollars described by Nassar, the unit is still a small part of the union’s business. Players Inc. generated $121.65 million in revenue in the 12 months ended Feb. 29, 2016, per figures in the tax return. That compares with $113 million the year before and $95 million the year prior, according to those tax returns.

On the ACE website, the union writes, “In its first year alone, ACE Media has produced, created or facilitated more than 750 pieces of content, featuring over 350+ athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL, U.S. Soccer and more.”

The union’s highest-paid outside contractor in the 12 months ended Feb. 29, 2016, was a law firm, not an unusual occurrence. Winston & Strawn took in $5.6 million, roughly 14 percent of the NFLPA’s expenses, per the tax return.

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