Which Sport Makes the Most Money?
What sport makes the most money? The NFL ranks number 1 on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in the world in 2020. The NFL generated USD 16 billion last year leading the way for the most profitable sports leagues. Sports leagues generate revenue in many ways including TV and broadcasting deals, ticket sales, merchandising, licensing, and more. Sports are exciting, fun, and are followed by intense fandoms; however, the inner working behind just how they operate and generate profits can be just as important. This is BizVibe’s list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in 2020. The NFL is the richest sports league, but who ranks right behind it, and what are their chances of moving up this ladder? Find out on this detailed post.
Top 10 Largest Sports Leagues by Revenue in the World 2020
Which sport makes the most money in 2020? The following is a list of top sports leagues by revenue in the world as of 2020.
Revenue (USD billions)
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Which sport makes the most money? The National Football League (NFL) ranks number 1 on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue, generating USD 16 billion last year. The National Football League (NFL) consists of 32 teams that share football-related income — as per the CBA — between players and owners with 52% split going to owners and 48% to the players. NFL earns its revenue mostly from TV deals, but also merchandising, licensing, rickets sales, and more. Local revenue consists of ticket sales, concessions, and corporate sponsors — this is money earned by the teams themselves. The cost of running an NFL is very high, for example, the Packers spent over USD 420 million on expenses last year. The NFL consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is among the four major North American professional sports leagues along with the NBA, MLB, and NHL. Out of the 4 major sports leagues, the NFL has long been the most profitable, heading towards a goal of USD 25 billion very soon.
- Founded: 1921
- NFL Headquarters: New York City, USA
- NFL Revenue: USD 16 billion
- NFL Total Attendance: 17,788,671
- NFL Average Attendance: 67,405
- Most titles: Green Bay Packers (13)
- Most recent champion(s): Kansas City Chiefs
NFL TV Partners
- NFL Network
- Telemundo Deportes
Ranking 2nd on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in the world for 2020 is Major League Baseball (MLB), an American professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. Last year the MLB generated a record USD 10.7 billion in revenues— making it one of the most profitable sports leagues in history. MLB consists of 30 teams: 15 teams in the National League (NL) and 15 in the American League (AL). MLB revenue primarily comes from media rights, sponsorships, TV deals, and ticket sales at gates. As new TV deals kick in, league revenues will soar again in the coming years. In total attendance, the MLB is the top sports league in the world in attendance with 69,625,244 people attending games annually.
- Founded: 1903
- MLB Headquarters: New York City, USA
- MLB Revenue: USD 10.7 billion
- MLB Total Attendance: 69,625,244
- MLB Average Attendance: 28,830
- Most titles: New York Yankees (27)
- Most recent champion(s): Washington Nationals
MLB TV Partners
- MLB Network
- YouTube (live streaming)
- TVA Sports
- MLB Network
Ranking 3rd on this list is of the top sports leagues by revenue is the National Basketball League — arguably the fastest growing sports league in modern history. The is an American men’s professional basketball league, composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada) and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. Last year the NBA generated USD 8.8 billion mostly secured from lucrative TV deals, sponsorships, merchandising, ticket sales, and more.
NBA is the fastest growing and most lucrative league among the 4 major sports for investment, as NBA franchise values continue to soar, up 14% in the past year to an average of $2.12 billion. The annual increase for the NFL is 11% and 8% in the MLB for comparison. Why is NBA revenue so high and soaring? NBA is among the most innovative and progressive sports leagues and very popular with younger demographics. Additionally, the marketability of its players rivals only Soccer, as names like LeBron James. Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant rival the likes of soccer’s most notable players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Founded: 1946
- NBA Headquarters: New York City, USA
- NBA Revenue: USD 8.8 billion
- NBA Total Attendance: 21,972,129
- NBA Average Attendance: 17,864
- Most titles: Boston Celtics (17 titles)
- Most recent champion(s): Toronto Raptors
NBA TV Partners
- NBA TV
- NBA TV Canada
- Sportsnet/Sportsnet One
The English Premier League (EPL) ranks 4th on this list of the largest sports leagues by revenue in the world generating USD 7.3 billion last year — a record high for the league. The English Premier League is the top level of the English football league system, consisting of 20 club teams. The EPL was founded in February 1992 and is operated as a corporation and is owned by the 20 member clubs. The majority of Premier League revenue is generated through broadcasting fees, commercial and sponsorship deals.
- Founded: 1992
- EPL Headquarters: London, England
- EPL Revenue: USD 7.3 billion
- EPL Total Attendance: 14,503,954
- EPL Average Attendance: 38,168
- Most titles: Manchester United (13)
- Most recent champion(s): Liverpool
EPL TV Partners
- Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video (live matches)
- Sky Sports, BBC Sport (highlights)
5. La Liga
The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División — commonly referred to as La Liga — ranks 5th on this list of the highest-grossing sports leagues. La Liga is the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football league system. The league is contested by 20 club teams and last year generated revenues of USD 5.26 billion —making it one of the top sports leagues by revenue in the world. La Liga’s revenue primarily comes from TV and broadcasting rights.
- Founded: 1929
- La Liga Headquarters: Madrid, Spain
- La Liga Revenue: USD 5.26 billion
- La Liga Total Attendance: 10,200,458
- La Liga Average Attendance: 26,843
- Most titles: Real Madrid (34)
- Most recent champion(s): Real Madrid
Ranking 6th on this list of the top 10 largest sports league by revenue is The National Hockey League (NHL), a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. Last year the NHL brought in revenue of USD 5.09 billion — making it one of the most valuable sports leagues in terms of annual revenue and profits. The NHL is one of the 4 major sports leagues in America and has an annual attendance of 21,501,156 people coming to games annually.
- Founded: 1917
- NHL Headquarters: New York City, USA
- NHL Revenue: USD 5.09 billion
- NHL Total Attendance: 21,501,156
- NHL Average Attendance: 17,481
- Most titles: Montreal Canadiens (25)
- Most recent champion(s): St. Louis Blues
NHL TV Partners
- Canada: Sportsnet, TVA Sports
- United States: NBC/NBCSN, NHL Network
Bundesliga sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga, ranks 7th on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue, generating USD 4.74 in revenue last year. Bundesliga is a professional association football league in Germany, consisting of 18 teams. Founded in 1963, Bundesliga attendances peaked at over 13,298,147 last year with an annual attendance of 43,458 —making it one of the most popular sports leagues in the world.
- Founded: 1963
- Bundesliga Headquarters: Frankfurt, Germany
- Bundesliga Revenue: USD 4.74 billion
- Bundesliga Total Attendance: 13,298,147
- Bundesliga Average Attendance: 43,458
- Most titles: Bayern Munich (29 titles)
- Most recent champion(s): Bayern Munich
8. Serie A
Serie A ranks 8th on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in the world, generating USD 3.62 billion in revenue last year. Serie A is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa Campioni d’Italia.
- Founded: 1898
- Serie A Revenue: USD 3.62 billion
- Most titles: Juventus (36 titles)
- Most recent champion(s): Juventus
Ranking 9th on this list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue is the UEFA Champions League, an annual club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs, deciding the competition winners through a group and knockout format. Last year UEFA Champions League generated USD 3.31 billion — making it one of the top 10 sports leagues in the world by revenue. UEFA Champions League has a total attendance of 6,163,044 and an average attendance of 49,304.
- Founded: 1955
- UEFA Champions League Headquarters: Nyon, Switzerland
- UEFA Champions League Revenue: USD 3.31 billion
- UEFA Champions League Total Attendance: 6,163,044
- UEFA Champions League Average Attendance: 49,304
- Most titles: Real Madrid (13 titles)
- Most recent champion(s): Liverpool
10. Ligue 1
Rounding out BizVibe’s list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in the world in 2020 is Ligue 1, a French professional league for men’s association football clubs. Last year Ligue generated USD 2.99 billion — making it one richest sports leagues in the world. Ligue 1 seasons run from August to May. Clubs play two matches against each of the other teams in the league – once home and once away – totaling to 38 matches throughout the season.
- Founded: 1930
- Ligue 1 Revenue: USD 2.99 billion
- Most titles: Saint-Étienne (10 titles)
- Most recent champion(s): Paris Saint-Germain
This is BizVibe’s list of the top 10 largest sports leagues by revenue in the world in 2020. The top sports leagues continue to innovate by capturing global audiences like never before seen in history. With the advent of streaming and the importance of broadcasting deals, expect these companies to get even more profitable in the future.
The Future of the Top Sports Leagues
At the rate it’s going, the NBA may vary well surpass all sports leagues in revenues very soon. The NBA is among the most innovative and is the fastest growing sports league that also increasingly growing a global audience. In terms of sports, soccer leagues comprise of roughly 14 of the top 20 most profitable leagues because of the global popularity of the sport. For now, NFL is still holdings its number 1 position among the top 10 largest sports league by revenue but the future is open as most leagues are seeing stellar annual growth rates.