Sports is a big business in America. The TV rights for the NFL will be above $100 billion for the period from 2023 to 2033. Perhaps this is because of new competition to televise the games. Bidders included CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox, and NBC. A new player, Amazon, was also in the mix.
While the NFL usually gets the richest media deals, and its teams bring in the highest revenue among the four professional sports, the revenue for MLB, the NBA, and NHL have also risen sharply over the last decade.
This surge in new sources of revenue and new bidders for programming has also been lifted by emerging media, the most visible of which is streaming. Even online warhorse Yahoo is in the sports streaming sector.
The Forbes valuation of professional sports teams has been the gold standard since the 1990s. Unlike other valuation models, its data include hard-to-find information like stadium contracts. Additionally, Forbes has also expanded its valuation list to professional soccer, which extended its analysis to franchises outside the U.S.
Forbes recently released its “World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams 2021”. And, soccer has upended the ranking of the list. However, the most valuable team in American, and worldwide, is the Dallas Cowboys, which has held the top spot for years. Forbes pegs its value at $5.7 billion. That is up 43% in the last five years based on the Forbes research. Owner Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 for $150 million, an astonishingly low price by today’s standards.
The financial strength of the NFL is apparent in a look at the world’s 50 most valuable teams. According to Forbes:
The 50 teams on this year’s list come from four sports—football (26), basketball (9), soccer (9) and baseball (6)—all of which are propelled by ever-escalating media rights deals, the single biggest factor to land in the top 50.
Recent deals to buy teams across the five sports show that the rise in valuations has continued. Billionaire investor Steve Cohen bought the struggling New York Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion. The Forbes analysis shows that the Mets lost $125 million last year.
One final trend the Forbes lists shows is that major league sports teams are very often held by billionaires. This includes long-time owners like the Kraft family that bought the New England Patriots in 1994 to the Los Angeles Clippers which were bought by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in 2014.
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