Which are the most profitable sports leagues?
Globally, the sports industry has been estimated to worth over $620 billion. This indicates, that professional games are big business in today’s world with money being generated from ticket sales or events, stadium rentals, broadcasting deals, transfers, merchandise, gambling and sponsorships.
A lot of sports fans tend to ignore the fact that, their beloved team is primarily a big business. Sports ventures has proven to be a really profitable branch of the entertainment industry, making incredible sums of money from all sorts of sources.
Below, you shall be looking at the most valuable, the biggest and the most profitable sports leagues worldwide ranked by their yearly average revenue.
Ranking The 10 Most Profitable Sports Leagues
10. The UEFA Champions League
Revenue: $2 Billion
Every Season, 32 teams who are selected based on their performances in their respective leagues get to compete in this highly prestigious competition. These teams are then drawn into eight groups of four teams using a certain algorithim. Each team in a group then plays each other in a double round-robin system. A grand total of twenty two clubs have won this prestigious competition since it’s inception in 1955
This is the highest crown of European league football that every team aspires to win. With Real Madrid holding the record as the team with the most Champions League titles (13 European cups). BT Sports acquiring the rights to broadcast every single champions league and Europa league game, paying over £400m per year from 2021-2024.
9. Italy’s Serie A
Market Value: $2.3 Billion
The Serie A is Italy’s top flight football league which is very popular in Europe and to football fans generally. Napoli used to be the most expensive sports team in the Serie A, but Juventus now holds that position thanks to the mega transfer deal of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Other than the English Premier League and the Bundesliga, the Italian serie A broadcasting deal is one of the biggest in footballing history. With an improved broadcast deal signed in 2019 which brings in a reported €1.3 billion every season.
8. Germany’s Bundesliga
Revenue: $4.33 Billion
When you look at the numbers, it becomes clear that the German top flight can boast of the most loyal fans in the world who never miss a game. The turnout of spectators for every Bundesliga game is second to none, an average of 42,738 tickets are sold per game in the Bundesliga.
German football league announced recently, that it’s eighteen clubs’ total a revenue of over 4 billion euros ($4.33 billion) which is a 5.4 percent increase from the 2018 football Season.
7. La Liga Santander
Revenue : $4.5 Billion
The Spanish La Liga is the apex football league in Spain and 7th on our list of the most profitable sports leagues. Though, La Liga is not as popular as the English Premier League, it is still home to football’s two biggest teams Real Madrid and Barcelona.
La Liga pulls it’s revenue from commercial deals, transfer sales, match ticket sales and most importantly broadcasting deals. La Liga club revenues rose by 20.6 per cent during the 2017/18 campaign to reach a record €4.479 billion.
6. National Hockey League (NHL)
Revenue: $4.8 Billion
The National Hockey League, similarly to other major sport may be one of the lesser sport in the Northern America, but it still has a massive fanbase. The NHL is still the biggest hockey league in the world generating a revenue of €4.2 billion in the 2017-2018 season. In 2018/19 season, that number increased to $5.09 billion, with another (ten years right deal) with NBC and NBC SportsNet paying the sum of $2 billion, or $200 million per season.
5. English Premier League (EPL)
Revenue: $5.3 Billion
The Premier League may be light years behind American Sports, but it’s the most-watched sports league globally, especially when it comes to football games. Teams involved in the Premier league game are restricted only to England and Wales, but still it’s followed by people all over the world.
Every club in the English top flight generates their revenue through commercial and sponsorship deals. The EnglishPremier League generate it’s revenue via TV broadcasting rights, with about $5.3 billion. For instance, in 2016 a 3-years TV contract was signed by the Premier League worth $13.6 billion. This funds were evenly shared among the 20 clubs in the league. In 2016/17 season available data, the Premier League made €5.3 billion.
4. Indian Premier League (IPL)
Revenue : $7 Billion
Cricket is definitely not one of the most popular sports globally, and it is really very surprising to find it on our list of most valuable sports leagues. To have taken the 4th spot, with numbers well above the likes of hockey and even the best football leagues speaks volumes about the Indian Premier League. A league with just 8 teams that typically play for just two months in a whole year, still makes in a whopping $7 billion in revenue.
But when you consider the fact that India is home to 1.339 billion people and cricket is their favorite sport, you begin to see the big picture. The Indians are so passionate about the sport that, when there is an important cricket match, every other activity comes to halt. Because, cricket is the most watched TV broadcasts in India. A major part of Indian premier leagues annual revenue flows from broadcasting deals with Star India.
Betting has been another major source of revenue in all sports leagues, but the rate of IPL betting is particularly eye catching. Match day attendance for IPL’s games is also on the rise as well, with reports showing that the average number of spectators has been well above 32000 per game.w
3. National Basketball Association (NBA)
Revenue: $8 Billion
When compared to the NFL and the MLB, the National Basketball Association enjoys worldwide popularity and fame especially in North America. It comes as no surprise since basketball is currently sitting somewhere in the top five most liked and followed sports globally, with an estimated number of 800 million global fans. So it is definitely expected that the biggest basketball league in the world would be in the top three of the most successful sports leagues in the world.
The NBA, pulls it’s mammoth revenues from valuable deals signed with national TV broadcasters, generating the sum of $500 million in international media revenue. Estimation from Forbes, shows that at least an NBA franchise is worth $1 billion and an average NBA team worth $1.87 billion in 2019
Fans attendance and ticket sales, reveals the consistent rise of NBA games without complain about the prices. With big teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors all worthabove $2 billion
2. Major League Baseball (MLB)
Revenue: $10 Billion
Baseball is another sport that does not really have a global fanbase, with the majority of it’s fans coming from North America. Yet as we’ve seen a few times already, having large number of fans does not really mean you become the most profitable. The MLB takes the second spot and it looks like it will be holding that position for years to come, with the way the league is growing.
MLB gross revenues as at 1992 was $1.2 billion and since then, it has grown to $10.3 billion in 2018, and $10.7 billion in 2019. This means that each team that participated last season made a profit of more than $300 million.
Each season, popular baseball teams rake in millions from tickets sales, as an average ticket price per game in 2018 was $32.44. This shows how the MLB has risen consistently every year since 2006. When it comes to sports franchises MLB is no match with NFL as only 6 out of 50 most valuable teams come from this sports league.
1. National Football League (NFL)
Revenue: $16 Billion
The National Football League (NFL) takes the top spot on this list. Way ahead of European football which is the most recognized and popular sport globally. When you look at it from a financial perspective, the NFL is the king in town. With most of it’s fans from the US and Canada there is hardly any interest outside the borders of these countries.
The NFL generated above $13 and $16 billion in 2017 and 2018 while it’s revenue is expected to grow to by $5 billion next year. The NFL has long term contracts with television networks like ESPN, Fox, NBC and several others. All of which account for the majority of its annual revenue.
Half of it’s revenue distributed to the 32 franchises with NFL having 29 out of the 50 richest franchises in the world. While the NFL doesn’t have the same international and social media reach as European football leagues, they certainly make more money than every single one of them.
America has four of the world’s most valuable sports leagues
So there is our current list of the most profitable sports leagues in the world. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.