It is a fact that when measured by number of federated practitioners, the most popular sport in the world is football, or soccer as it is called in the USA. Even in the United States, soccer accounts for more licences than any other team sport. But is it also the highest grossing sport at a professional level?
The following chart represents revenue for the top 20 professional sports leagues worldwide in 2016.
The chart only includes sport teams, so we are not considering the three individual sports that generate hoards of cash. Two of these sports are golf and tennis, which through their respective associations, the PGA and ATP, have developed very successful non league format worldwide competitions. The other individual sport being motor racing, which although divided between USA (Nascar and IndyCar) and the rest of the world (F1 and MotoGP), also generates huge revenues.
The chart shows that 14 of the top 20 revenue generating leagues are “soccer” leagues. However, the top grossing league is the NFL, the “american” football league.
If we add up revenue of those 14 “soccer” leagues, the total amounts to 19,400 million dollars, 50% more than the NFL and 80% more than the sum of the 2 biggest baseball leagues (USA and Japan). The globally recognized NBA, only generates 4,800 million dollars, even less than the Premier League.
Curiously, 4 out of the 5 top grossing leagues take place in North America. Only the Premier League sneaks into the third position.
As far as the spanish “La Liga” goes, it stands out as the seventh overall, below the “Bundesliga”, but above the “Serie A” and the “Ligue 1” in terms of gross revenue. Still, “La Liga” grosses less than half the revenues that the Premier League does.
The NFL´s leadership is solid, as is the preeminent position the Premier League holds among “soccer” leagues.
Two further comments:
The Super Bowl winner plays 19 games every season while the NBA champion has to play a minimun of 98 games to reach the title. Yet, the NFL generates three times the revenues in half the time every season.
The revenue the Premiere League receives from their TV contracts outside of their main UK market alone, is higher than the revenue La Liga gets from all tv markets, Spain included.
The difference is GOOD MARKETING.