As NFL falters, MLB sponsors spent record-high $892 million

Major League Baseball’s corporate sponsors spent a record $892 million this season, a 7.9 percent increase from last season, according to a new report from ESP Research, which is owned by British ad giant WPP.

The list of official MLB sponsors includes Amazon (Amazon Web Services powers Statcast), Bank of America, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, DraftKings (in which MLB has an equity stake), Gatorade, MasterCard, Nike, and T-Mobile.

Good news for the baseball business

The 8 percent rise in spending is a sign of faith in pro baseball’s growth, after the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was the most watched World Series in 12 years, and Game 7 of that series was the most watched single game in 25 years.

RELATED: YouTube's brilliant ad annoys fans during Game 1 of the World Series

YouTube's brilliant ad annoys fans during Game 1 of the World Series
See Gallery
YouTube's brilliant ad annoys fans during Game 1 of the World Series
This #WorldSeries @youtube ad is distracting lol. #Astros #Dodgers #EarnHistory
That youtube ad behind homeplate is insane..d red play logo makes it look lyk ur watching in youtube 😁😁 #WorldSeries
.@foxtv @mlb please remove that @youtube ad from behind home plate. the red logo is very distracting. #WorldSeries
Watching on my mobile: Is this YouTube ad placement behind the plate genius or am I the only one trying to push pla…
C'mon @MLB, @MLBONFOX, @FOXSports that YouTube ad behind home plate has gotta go. #WorldSeries
WTF @YouTube I love you, but you need stop this. Illusion the red "play" gives on the center of the screen is di…
Is the YouTube logo behind home plate annoying anyone else? #WorldSeries
That YouTube play button in he middle of my tv is freakin me #WorldSeries #dodgers
That YouTube button is the most infuriating thing behind home plate since Angel Hernandez. #WorldSeries
please raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimised by the YouTube logo behind home plate at the World Series
Oh, man, you absoultely have to stop what you're doing right now and watch this video.
This #WorldSeries @youtube ad is distracting lol. #Astros #Dodgers #EarnHistory
Anyone watching the World Series have the YouTube logo on the backstop messing with them?
The red youtube play button behind home plate is distracting and annoying. #FoxSports #WorldSeries
#FoxSports remove the you tube ad behind home plate-the red arrow logo too distracting!

“We had storylines in the postseason that kept audiences with baseball even after their individual team was out,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in February. He called the excitement around the 2016 World Series a “reaffirmation of the fundamental strength of our game.” It makes sense that following a record-breaking World Series, MLB sponsors upped their investment.

For comparison purposes, via ESP Research: NBA sponsors spent $861 million last season, a 7.8 percent increase from the year before and inching closer to MLB; NHL sponsors spent $505 million last season, a 5.9 percent increase over the year before; and MLS sponsors are projected to have spent $347 million this season, which would be a 4.1 percent increase.

In football, it’s a different story right now, though it still has the highest sponsor spend: $1.25 billion last season.

NFL television ratings were down 5% year over year at the halfway point of the season, and down nearly 20% compared to the 2015 season; advertisers are “nervous” amidst the ratings dip and ongoing political controversy; and at least one official sponsor, Papa John’s (also an MLB sponsor), has said it is scaling back on its NFL advertising.

Football is seeing a different sponsor trend

According to pollster Morning Consult, the NFL has become one of the most divisive brands in America.

The MLB sponsor spending hike is not a direct result of the current NFL season’s political controversy, since the NFL season begins in September, when baseball is already wrapping up its regular season. But it is interesting that while MLB is seeing sponsor spending growth, NFL sponsors are pulling back.

RELATED: NFL owners who became billionaires

NFL owners who became billionaires
See Gallery
NFL owners who became billionaires

Dan Snyder: Washington Redskins

$1.1 billion(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Denise DeBartolo York: San Francisco 49ers

$1.1 billion

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

Jeffrey Lurie: Philadelphia Eagles

$1.1 billion

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Alex Spanos: San Diego Chargers

$1.1 billion

(Photo by Getty Images)

William Clay Ford Sr.: Detroit Lions

$1.1 billion

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Bud Adams: Tennessee Titans

$1.2 billion

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Tom Benson: New Orleans Saints

$1.2 billion

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Arthur Blank: Atlanta Falcons

$1.5 billion

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Jim Irsay: Indianapolis Colts

$1.5 billion

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Steve Bisciotti: Baltimore Ravens

$1.6 billion

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Robert McNair: Houston Texans

$1.8 billion

(Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Robert Kraft: New England Patriots

$2.3 billion

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Shahid Khan: Jacksonville Jaguars

$2.5 billion

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Jerry Jones: Dallas Cowboys

$2.7 billion

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Malcolm Glazer: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

$3.6 billion

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon SMI/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)

Stan Kroenke: Los Angeles Rams

$4 billion

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Stephen Ross: Miami Dolphins

$4.4 billion

(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Paul Allen: Seattle Seahawks

$15 billion

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)


And the two trends are likely not completely unrelated: the NFL experienced a ratings drop last season as well, and the current controversy over player protests began last season with Colin Kaepernick.

Make no mistake: The NFL is still the top dog among American pro sports leagues, with an expected $14 billion in overall league revenue this year.

But football is trending negatively right now, while baseball is showing a lot of positive indicators.

Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwriteSportsbook is our sports business video and podcast series.

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