Pizza Hut replaces Papa John's as official pizza sponsor of the NFL

The NFL and Papa John’s partnership ended Tuesday leaving a pie-shaped hole for Pizza Hut to fill. By Wednesday, the NFL announced Pizza Hut as its newest sponsor. Financial terms have yet to be disclosed by the NFL, however, the new deal reportedly included more money and is expected to extend through the 2020 season.

“The NFL and pizza appeal to the same demographic, which is everyone,” said Renie Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of partnership and sponsorship management, per ESPN. “Fans watch our game and they do it around a pizza box. That’s why it’s one of the most important categories in sports sponsorship.”

Pizza Hut replaces Papa John’s as NFL’s sponsor (Reuters)

The news doesn’t come as a surprise. Amid Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter’s mishandling of the the players’ social justice protests during the 2017 season, sales for Papa Johns plunged and the relationship became too toxic to continue. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut’s sales benefited from its rivals decline.

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Papa John’s may tout better ingredients, but Pizza Hut remains superior in sheer volume. It’s 7,500 locations are twice as many nationwide as Papa John’s. The new deal begins April 1 and Pizza Hut will begin its new cross-promotional NFL campaign around April’s NFL draft.

Despite losing its presence at league events, Papa John’s retained its deal with the Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones, who owns 98 Papa John’s franchises. One byproduct of the NFL’s Pizza Hut sponsorship deal should be Pizza Hut delivering more creative promotions of its product with NFL players during its gameday TV spots than it has in the past.

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.