Green Bay Packers Show Profitability of NFL Model Even as Cracks Form

Anthem protest or not, being the owner of an NFL franchise isn't a bad gig. 

The Green Bay Packers' 2017 financial statement, which was released this week, highlights just how beneficial the league's revenue-sharing infrastructure is to the NFL's 32 franchises. 

The revenue-sharing model, which pools the television revenue the league receives from its national TV contracts and distributes it evenly, paid the Packers $255 million in 2017, up almost 5% from the $244 million it was paid last season. Additionally, the team brought in another $199 million in local revenue, a 0.8% year-over-year increase. 

However, expenses jumped 12% during the year, to $421 million, leading to a 47% decline in net income to $38.6 million. 

The Packers' annual report is a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the NFL's financial apparatus. As the league's only publicly owned team, the Green Bay Packers are the only franchise obligated to make their financials public. 

In 2011, the NFL signed nine-year extensions on its television contracts with CBS Corp. (CBS) , 21st Century Fox (FOXA) and NBC (CMCSA) through the 2022 season. The deals pay out an estimated $27 billion.

The NFL no longer has to open up its own books because it gave up its tax-exempt status in 2015. 

The league has been under pressure over the last few seasons as a public spat with President Trump over players protesting racial injustice has taken center stage. During the singing of the national anthem, some players kneel rather than salute the flag, which has resulted in public campaigns on the right to boycott the NFL. 

In response, there are public campaigns on the left to also boycott the NFL because they believe the league has not protected its protesting players from reprisal from team owners. 

However, all of that bad press hasn't seemed to derail the NFL's television gravy train. Earlier this year, the NFL inked a separate, 5-year $3.3 billion deal with Fox Sports for the rights to its Thursday night games package.  

"Overall, I would say it was another strong year financially for the Packers," team president and CEO Mark Murphy said. "I think the NFL continues to be very popular nationally. There's been a lot of talk about ratings that have gone down. But really, relative to ratings overall, the league remains very strong. So the fan interest and support remain strong for the league and for us."

Green Bay is one of the NFL's smallest markets, so the local revenue (and operating expenses) are much higher for teams in large markets like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. 

Comcast is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells CMCSA? Learn more now.

More from Investing

China and U.S. to Resume Trade Talks; Futures Rise

China and U.S. to Resume Trade Talks; Futures Rise

Anxious Bitcoin Investors Wonder if This Is Finally the Bottom

Anxious Bitcoin Investors Wonder if This Is Finally the Bottom

Elon Musk Wants Tesla Private But Electric Car Rival Fisker Wants to Go Public

Elon Musk Wants Tesla Private But Electric Car Rival Fisker Wants to Go Public

Rewind: Jim Cramer on the Market Selloff, Macy's, Constellation and Canopy

Rewind: Jim Cramer on the Market Selloff, Macy's, Constellation and Canopy

What to Expect From Nordstrom on Thursday

What to Expect From Nordstrom on Thursday