So What is the Next Xbox/Sounders Sponsorship Worth?

It’s hard to think back to 2008, back before the Seattle Sounders officially existed in anything more than everyone’s imagination.

The Sounders were to become the 16th team in a league with a couple of marquee names in David Beckham and Landon Donovan. LA, DC and Toronto were the only teams to draw more than 18k fans a game.

So when the Sounders announced that Xbox was going to commit $20 Million bucks to the team and the league, it really seemed like – and was – a large sum of money to risk.

But now as we look at the end of the 3rd year of the deal, it’s the Sounders who can’t wait for the contract to expire. Unfortunately for them, they still have 2 more years of the deal. When you look back, the Xbox media team made a heck of a deal.

At $20 Million over 5 years, you are looking at a deal that is only $4 million a year. For that 4 million Xbox got rights to the front of the jerseys, signage in all MLS stadiums, naming rights to Xbox Pitch at Qwest (then Century Link) Field, and TV spots on all broadcasts.

Let’s look at some of the other deals in the MLS (sourced from The Brotherly Game):

  • Red Bulls: Red Bull @ $50 Million total, including stadium naming rights. But they also own the team.
  • Real Salt Lake: Xango @ $5MM per year.
  • Galaxy: Herbalife @ $3.5 – $5MM per year.
  • DC United: Volkswagen @ $3MM per year. (A few other deals are in this range, like Philly/Bimbo, San Jose / Amway.)
  • So if we assume the national value to the Sounders sponsor is roughly the same as the value any other team’s sponsor receives, the delta is in the value at home. So lets say maybe 1/2 – 2/3 the value is in national exposure, and 1/3 – 1/2 is in local. If that’s the case, then the national value is about $2 million for each team.

    So in those terms, the local value of DC United’s sponsorship would be about $1 Million per year. For Salt Lake, it’s $3 Million per year. Now the 38,500 fans per game in Seattle just about doubles everyone but the #2 LA Galaxy at 23,000 per game. So if the Sounders drive 2x more fans than Salt Lake, and 2x the TV impressions, you’d have to estimate the local value is at least $6 Million per year (2x Salt Lake).

    There are probably more scientific ways to figure this out, but we don’t have access to impression volumes, jersey sales and hard stats. And we haven’t included the premium that Xbox pays for being the local guys recruiting employees, and the international value of having the team play across Central America and Mexico, or the fact that they’ve gotten a smoking deal the last 3 years.

    So let’s ballpark a number of $9 Million per year to start the new deal in 2014. ($2 Million National Value, $6 Million Local value, $1 Million Premium.) How does that look?

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