Sporting Charts

A Look At Franchise Values Across the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA

As Kobe Bryant throws down a huge dunk or Tom Brady slings a pass deep into the end zone we often aren't thinking of the dollar and cents being generated.

There are huge television deals, merchandise, naming rights, concession sales and more. Sports has become huge business. And these dollars and cents are being generated at a greater and greater rate.

Each year, Forbes.com releases an estimate of franchise values across the four major sports using a multitude of factors including operating income and transaction values.

We decided to look at these valuations to see what we could learn about each sport and the business of sports overall.

Valuation of the Big Four Leagues


Looking at the valuations across all four leagues we find some interesting takeaways.

Firstly, the combined value of all four leagues is $77.956 billion dollars, which if publically traded would make it one of the 100 biggest companies - nearly as valuable as McDonalds. There is a total of 122 teams across the big four and at the current valuation the average value of franchises is $638.98M.

Nearly half of the $77.956B valuation comes from the NFL where the league is worth a combined $35.422B with the average franchise value being over a billion dollars at $1.1B. The lowest franchise value in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars at $770M, would be the 2nd highest in the NHL, 3rd in the NBA and 4th and in the MLB. Apparently, it has paid to be an NFL franchise owner as the league has grown.

Interestingly, Jerry Jones the owner of the Dallas Cowboys (valued at $2.1B) could sell the team and buy the 12 lowest valued NHL teams and still have a $100M left over.

After the NFL, the MLB is next with a value of $22.3B followed by the NBA at $11.8B with the NHL coming in last at $8.5B.

Interestingly, while the NBA is worth over $3B more than the NHL the NHL does have a team worth $1B (Toronto Maple Leafs) while the Los Angeles Lakers come the closest at $900M. On the flipside, the lowest valued franchise in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks at $268M, is worth more than 20 NHL teams or 66.67% of the league.

Here is a breakdown of each league:

League Total League Value Average Franchise Highest Franchise Lowest Franchise
NFL  $35,422,000,000  $1,106,937,500  $2.1B (Cowboys  $770M (Jaguars
MLB  $22,307,000,000  $744,566,667  $2.3B (Yankees  $451M (Rays
NBA  $11,776,000,000  $392,533,333  $900M (Lakers  $268M (Bucks
NHL  $8,451,000,000  $281,700,000  $1B (Maple Leafs)   $130M (Blues
Combined  $77,956,000,000  $638,983,607            

 

Billion Dollar Club


In total, there 25 franchises in the big four sports that are worth more than $1B - 20 in the NFL, 4 in the MLB and 1 in the NHL.

Here is a complete list of the $1B+ franchises:

Team  Valuation League
Yankees 2,300,000,000 MLB
Cowboys  2,100,000,000 NFL
Patriots  1,640,000,000 NFL
Dodgers  1,615,000,000 MLB
Redskins  1,600,000,000 NFL
Giants  1,470,000,000 NFL
Red Sox  1,312,000,000 MLB
Texans  1,305,000,000 NFL
Jets  1,284,000,000 NFL
Eagles  1,260,000,000 NFL
Bears  1,190,000,000 NFL
49ers  1,175,000,000 NFL
Packers  1,161,000,000 NFL
Ravens  1,157,000,000 NFL
Colts  1,154,000,000 NFL
Broncos  1,132,000,000 NFL
Steelers  1,100,000,000 NFL
Dolphins  1,060,000,000 NFL
Panthers  1,048,000,000 NFL
Seahawks  1,040,000,000 NFL
Buccaneers  1,033,000,000 NFL
Titans  1,011,000,000 NFL
Chiefs  1,008,000,000 NFL
Maple Leafs  1,000,000,000 NHL
Cubs  1,000,000,000 MLB

 

Big Business in the NFL


As mentioned previously, the NFL is by far the biggest league out of the big four with a total value of $35.4B and an average franchise value of $1.1B. We decided to dig a beat deeper into the number across the league to see what we could find.

When comparing the National Football Conference (NFC) vs. the American Football Conference (AFC) we find that the NFC wins the battle of valuation with a combined franchise value of $18.4B vs. the $17B combined valuation of the AFC.

Looking on a divisional basis, the NFC East is where the money is at with a combined valuation of $6.43B as it is home to three of the four highest valued teams in the league. The lowest valued division in the NFL is the AFC West which has a total valuation of $3.86B just slightly below the NFC South.

Here is a look at each division:

National Football Conference American Football Conference
NFC East  6,430,000,000 AFC East  4,789,000,000
NFC North  4,181,000,000 AFC North  4,115,000,000
NFC South  3,889,000,000 AFC South  4,240,000,000
NFC West  3,917,000,000 AFC West  3,861,000,000
Total  18,417,000,000 Total  17,005,000,000

 

Divisional Look at the NHL, NBA and MLB

In looking at each of the conferences in the other three leagues we found that the NHL has the greatest valuation difference between conferences with the Eastern Conference having a combined value of $5.008B, which is over $1.5B more than combined Western Conference valuation of $3.443B.

NHL Eastern Conference NHL Western Conference
Atlantic  1,734,000,000 Central  1,138,000,000
Northeast  2,318,000,000 Northwest  1,240,000,000
Southeast  956,000,000 Pacific  1,065,000,000
Total  5,008,000,000 Total  3,443,000,000

However, it is in the East that we find the division with the lowest combined valuation - the Southeast. The NHL Southeast is the only division across all four sports to have a combined valuation below $1B at $956B - there are 27 teams with a higher individual valuation.

The National Basketball Association is where we find the smallest difference in valuation between the conferences with only $88M separating the West ($5.93B) from the East ($5.84B) - the Pacific and Atlantic are the two dominant divisions from a valuation perspective.

NBA Eastern Conference NBA Western Conference
Atlantic  2,315,000,000 Northwest  1,641,000,000
Central  1,812,000,000 Pacific  2,369,000,000
Southeast  1,717,000,000 Southwest  1,922,000,000
Total  5,844,000,000 Total  5,932,000,000


Out of the big four sports, the NBA is the only one where the most valuable franchise and division is in the west with the Pacific division valued at $2.34B thanks mainly to the $900M valued Lakers.

In Major League Baseball, the National League has a combined valuation of $10.9B vs. the $11.4B combined value of the American League. 

MLB American League

MLB National League
East  5,249,000,000 East  3,484,000,000
Central  2,929,000,000 Central  3,303,000,000
West  3,222,000,000 West  4,122,000,000
Total  11,398,000,000 Total  10,909,000,000
Average  759,866,667 Average  727,266,667


Thanks to the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox the AL East is far and away the most valuable division in baseball with a combined valuation of $5.25B and an average franchise value of $1.05B.

 

For more on each sports, check out Forbes in-depth look at each: Football, Baseball, Hockey and Basketball.