Home Business Big Business How the AFL beats the NRL on sponsorship

How the AFL beats the NRL on sponsorship

Rugby league's disastrous pre-season could cost millions.

Jack Derwin

Digital Journalist, Your Money

Toyota has signed on again as the major sponsor of the Australian Football League (AFL) for a whopping $18.5 million per year until 2023, setting a new record for Australian sport.

The Australian‘s John Stensholt said that the landmark deal upped the ante on Toyota’s previous $16 million deal.

“It actually brings up 20 years for Toyota with the AFL. It’s very lucrative for the AFL and it’s a win-win for both really,” Stensholt told Your Money Live.

The agreement sees Toyota again secure the naming rights of the sport – the Toyota AFL premiership – and extends the car maker’s sponsorship into community programs like the North-East Australian Football League (which runs throughout New South Wales and Queensland).

It also will go into a disability competition put on by the league as well as flow into the Women’s AFL (AFLW).

“It’s really about getting more bang for their buck. It’s not just at the elite level, it’s also going across the sport as well. I think you find that corporates are really increasingly looking for touchpoint with community or grassroots sports,” Stensholt said.

The figure leaves AFL’s mostly north-of-the-border competitor, the National Rugby League (NRL), in its dust as it battles to overcome “the off-season from hell”.

“Rugby league gets a lot of money from its broadcasters but where it lags behind the AFL is in corporate terms – the money it gets from sponsors,” Stensholt said.

“There are quite a few deals the NRL has to renew this year and it’s going to be tough for them to get the same terms from the existing partners given the off-field and off-season controversies that the sport has gone through,” he explained.

Principally it has been the allegations of aggravated sexual assault surrounding St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin that have brought the NRL into disrepute yet again.

Despite qualms around sponsorship, however, its broadcasting deals look to remain strong Stensholt said.

“It did have the highest [TV] ratings it has had for a long time for its first match last night between the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm.”

Watch Stensholt’s full analysis above. 

Read more: How UFC became the world’s fastest-growing sport
More: Sports legends sound alarm on funding crisis
More: How to get members seats to your favourite sports