Updated December 2021
While the NFL won’t directly publish how many subscribers are specifically signed up for NFL RedZone, the data analytics team at GammWire estimates that RedZone had 5 million – 5.5 million subscribers during the 2021-2022 NFL season. This estimate is based on a number of factors and likely drastically falls in-between NFL seasons, but takes into account several key factors, detailed out below:
The NFL is a private entity, and thus revenue numbers aren’t publicly reported in as much detail as if the league was a publicly traded company, but they do report through the press annual financial metrics that can lend a view into specific category revenue streams.
From the NPR reporting, via private sources:
The new media rights packages is also much more valuable than previous deals for North America’s most popular sports league. A person familiar with the agreements, who asked not to be identified because the value of the deal has not been publicly released, told NPR the cumulative value of the deals is $113 billion over 11 years. That’s an 80% increase.
The NFL charges users, via a variety of different access points and services, $11 per month for NFL RedZone (not to be confused with DirecTV Red Zone). This as a % of their strategic television deals, leads credence to the estimation of around 5 million seasonal subscribers to the service. In other words, the NFL must estimate some level of cost of lost television revenue (paid for by the networks for each viewer for advertiser access to the audience) by a viewer leaving a traditional broadcast network and instead subscribing to a proprietary service like RedZone, which is ad-free.
Most importantly though, it’s important to factor in that the majority of NFL RedZone subscribers cancel at the end of every season as the network does not provide a strong reason to pay for the monthly subscription outside of the season. Of the approximate 5 million seasonal subscribers, a large majority of them cancel once the final whistle blows during the regular season. This is taken into account with each seasonal estimate as a factor of annual NFL revenue. While the league might one day hope to make RedZone a perennial network, part of the current business model tolerates this annual fluctuation.
The estimate also takes into account seasonal NFL viewership as a whole. ESPN estimates that total league viewership is near the strongest it has ever been, with average game viewership around 17 million, up 17% from 2020 and up 3% from 2019 (the year of the pandemic saw significant viewership declines).
With these increases, come annual RedZone subscription increases as well, and every year the sports network sees notable growth along with league total viewership, and in fact likely scales faster as it poaches more people away every year from more traditional broadcasts.
Predicting the future of any sports league’s television success can be difficult, but our analysis also found that even if annual NFL viewership flattened or even declined, RedZone would be soft-immune from any notable falloff. The network will continue to siphon some viewership even if there is leaguewide television viewership declines.
Related: How to watch RedZone online