The World’s Most Valuable Sports Team Brands

Published 9 days ago
By Chanel Retief | Mike Ozanian
Jamal Murray Attends Melbourne NBA Store Opening
(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Jerry Jones paid $150 million for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. Just the team’s brand is now worth $1.73 billion, the most in sports.

The Dallas Cowboys were a dying brand when Jerry Jones paid $150 million for the NFL team and the operating rights to its stadium in 1989. Three Super Bowls—1992, 1993, 1995—a new stadium, a ton of publicity over the course of 35 years and the largest fan base in the NFL has the Cowboys valued at $9 billion and the name of the team alone worth $1.73 billion—the most in team sports. It’s been a long time since the Cowboys played for the Lombardi Trophy, but Jones created the template for branding in sports.

Can you quantify the value of a sports team brand? We think our proprietary model gets pretty close, or at least provides a reasonable way to measure brands on in an equal, mathematical way. Our team brand values measure the portion of the team’s enterprise value not attributable to the size or demographics of the team’s market, the venue or league-shared revenue. In essence, Forbes’ proprietary formula of team brand values quantifies how much of its worth is over-and-above what the typical team in the same league and similar market is worth (as derived from a multiple of revenue).

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Take stadium sponsorships and advertising, for example. The Cowboys rake in over $260 million from these sources during 2022 at AT&T Stadium versus an average of about $65 million for other big market teams that control their stadiums like the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans. Our brand calculation counts roughly $130 million of the Cowboys sponsorship and advertising revenue towards the value of its brand.

In basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers brand take the top spot with a brand value of $1 billion. The Lakers generated over $160 million from their local media rights during the 2022-23 season, some $20 million more than the New York Knicks and more than double what the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls earned. The Lakers local media rights are worth $20 million in brand value.

Winning Champions League trophies is what Real Madrid is all about, and a big reason the Spanish side, which recently signed superstar Kylian Mbappe, are the world’s most valuable brand among soccer teams. One big payoff for the team’s brand is having the most valuable kit and front-of-jersey deals in soccer, worth a combined average of $207 million per season. Of that $207 million, our formula applies $52 million to Real Madrid’s brand value.

To get the most valuable sports team brands we culled our data base of MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA and soccer teams based on our most recent team valuations for each league. The ten most valuable brands, listed in the table below, is dominated by soccer, which comprises four teams. That is not hard to understand given soccer is the most global team sport in the world. No NHL or MLS teams made our top 10 list because their revenue, and thus by extension brand values, are too low.

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