American football’s NFL has hired Horizon Media as its global agency of record for strategy, planning, activation, and measurement.

Through the tie-up, the media services company will take the lead on all paid media and will partner with the NFL for both paid and owned asset optimization “with a goal of deepening fandom and engagement.”

The agency will also lead the NFL footprint global expansion and will work with global affiliates in other key countries.

Horizon was selected after an extensive six-month competitive review led by Muster Consulting.

OMD, the media firm owned by Omnicom, had been the NFL’s lead strategic media agency, while digital buying was handled by marketing company Tinuiti.

The paid media budget amounts to about $30 million, according to the request for proposal (RFP) sent late last year obtained by Ad Age. 

As part of its remit, Horizon will help the league determine the best use of its inventory across the calendar year, which includes the regular season, playoffs, NFL Draft, and NFL Combine.

The New York-based agency will also be tasked with increasing subscriptions for NFL+, the league’s streaming service launched last year, as well as helping the NFL grow its international business in markets including Canada, Mexico, and the UK.

In a statement to Ad Age, Dave Bolger, vice president of consumer media for the NFL, said: “As we continue to refine our approach to fan development and engagement, we were looking for a partner to help us combine the intelligent use of data-driven media activations with our best-in-class storytelling.

"Horizon and its global affiliates demonstrated that ability at every step of the process. Their fan-first planning approach, coupled with their impressive capabilities across the media landscape, will surely help us bolster our efforts to grow fandom and NFL affinity around the globe.”

Bill Koenigsberg, Horizon Media chief executive and founder, said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with such an iconic symbol of American culture to bring our combination of world-class people and innovative data solutions together for a winning combination for many years to come.”

This marks the latest move into sports marketing for Horizon, which launched its Horizon Sports and Experiences unit last year.

It has since partnered with NBA Entertainment, the marketing and production arm of the top basketball league, and helped to launch a pickleball competition earlier this year.