The Most Valuable Sports Leagues In The World

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NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 25: Detail view of the NFL shield logo in neon lights during the first round of the NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

There are many things we can say about sports – they are exciting, healthy, action-packed or even boring sometimes – but there is one thing that most sports fans tend to ignore: they are big business. Today, sports are a very lucrative branch of the entertainment industry, making money from all sorts of sources – the teams get paid through sponsorship deals and ticket sales, among others, while the leagues get most of their money from broadcast and media rights and merchandise. So, let’s take a look at the most valuable sports leagues by revenue last year.

The Most Valuable Sports Leagues In the World

5. National Hockey League (NHL)

With close to €4.2 billion in revenues in the 2017-2018 season (close to €133 million per team) the NHL is the fifth on the list of the most valuable sports leagues in the world. Ice hockey is a very popular sport in the Northern countries of Europe and North America but by no means in the top 10 most followed sport in the world. Still, its revenues make the NHL, perhaps the biggest ice hockey league in the world, a highly popular one with many fans and a lot of money pouring into it each season.

4. Premier League

The Premier League is the most followed association football league in the world, even if it is restricted to teams from England and Wales (two of the four countries in the United Kingdom). It also has the most valuable association football clubs in the world (last year Manchester United was second only to the Dallas Cowboys in value).

In the last season for which data is available (the 2016-2017 season), the Premier League made €5.3 billion.

3. National Basketball Association (NBA)

The NBA is a very popular league both in North America and beyond. And this shows when it comes to the league’s revenues, too – in the 2017-2018 season, it pocketed €6.27 billion, which translates to €209 million paid out to teams. Basketball is among the top 10 most followed sports in the world, with estimates speaking of more than 800 million global fans, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2. Major League Baseball (MLB)

While its fan base is mostly limited to the US, the MLB is another sports league that has stellar revenues. Last year, the total revenues of the league have reportedly reached €8.96 billion or close to €300 million for each of the participating teams.

1. National Football League (NFL)

Last but not least, here is the most valuable sports league of them all, none other than the NFL. Although American football is nowhere near the most popular sport globally (its fan base comes from the US and Canada alone, with a negligible following outside their borders) it is by far the most lucrative one of them all. In 2017, the NFL generated €11.4 billion (about $13 billion) and for last year, its revenues are expected to grow to around $15 billion.

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