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Volume 22 No. 35
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ACE Media sees significant revenue increase, adds to NFLPA reserves

The NFLPA launched ACE Media in late 2015 not only to produce athlete-centered video showing players from various leagues behind the scenes, but also to add another bucket of revenue to a union that is always stockpiling cash reserves for the next labor disturbance. The current NFL collective-bargaining agreement expires in 2021.

Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA leadership are preparing players for a possible lockout when the CBA expires.
Photo: getty images

In the latest NFLPA fiscal year, which ended at the close of February 2018, ACE Media generated $5.78 million. That’s 175 percent higher than its first full fiscal year, which ended in February 2017, according to the union’s tax returns.

ACE, which stands for Athlete Content & Entertainment, is still a small contributor for a union that took in $243 million in revenue from royalties, players dues and other sources, according to the NFLPA’s most recent tax return. For example, revenue from Players Inc., the union’s for-profit licensing arm, rose from $123 million to $131 million, according to the two most recent tax returns. But ACE is beginning to add to reserves the union has talked about needing in advance of the CBA’s expiration.

Ace Media revenue

Fiscal year* Revenue

2016 $123,525
2017 $2,105,102
2018 $5,785,941

At the recent NFLPA Super Bowl press conference, union executives talked about making sure their members are financially prepared for a work stoppage. “Every player is going to believe us when we tell them you are going to get locked out,” said NFLPA President Eric Winston.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith earned $3.31 million in the last fiscal year, nearly identical to the $3.311 million he earned in the previous year.

The union’s tax return shows a robust bottom line. In fiscal-year 2018, the NFLPA reported revenue minus expenses of $62 million. That led to a growth in net assets of 18 percent to $417 million. Expenses did rise, driven in part by a jump in legal expenses to $6.2 million from $3.2 million, according to the two most recent tax returns. The top expenditure to an outside contractor was to law firm Winston & Strawn, which received $5.5 million after getting less than $1 million in 2017.

The next largest expenditure to an outside contractor was $966,315 to an investigative firm, Hillard Heintze. That firm was the top paid outside contractor the year before at $979,000.