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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the role of television in the post-1949 history of the National Football League, with specific respect to the network contracts and more recent media trends. It then addresses the extent to which the revenue-sharing codicil, which commissioner Bert Bell saw as helping the weak, has contributed to achieving competitive balance. Additionally, the chapter discusses how professional football grew from obscurity (at first teams paid to televise games as a promotional tool) to become the most popular team sport in the United States. It is noted that the effect of revenue sharing on competitive balance, although likely modest, could go in either direction. The sharing of television revenues has not contributed to maintaining competitive balance. Competition in the standings has declined in concert with the steady increases in the shared revenues, and games have tended to become somewhat less competitive.

Keywords: National Football League, network television revenues, revenue sharing, Bert Bell, competitive balance, United States

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