The sports industry has become increasingly commercialized. The business side of sports has become as important, if not more important, than the actual competitions between athletes. There is great competition between television networks to broadcast certain sporting events and great competition between apparel companies to sponsor some of the biggest stars in sports. These sports businesses are highly concerned with the image and value of their brands.The term brand refers to any feature that identifies one businesses product as distinct from those of other businesses.
This article lists the top ten richest sports business brands. The list is predominantly made up of some of the premier television networks and sports apparel companies. The value of these brands were calculated as the amount of business they would fetch in an arms length transaction in excess of what a comparable rival would be worth. The valuations in this article for each brand are from 2013 and were calculated by Forbes. The list is concerned with sports businesses and does not include any sports franchises.
10. MSG Network – $300 Million
The MSG network is a regional cable television and radio service that serves the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The coverage mostly centers on the sports teams from New York City. The channel is named after Madison Square Garden and it broadcasts all the games of the teams that play there; the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and the WNBA’s New York Liberty. MSG also broadcasts games played by the New York Red Bulls of the MLS.
Since 2010, MSG has been broadcasting exclusive content for the New York Giants. The channel also broadcasts teams outside the five boroughs and carries the games of the Buffalo Sabres in certain regions of the state. Its sister channel, MSG Plus also carries NHL games and broadcasts the games of the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders. MSG’s valuation increased by $70 million in 2013 and the main reason why was a 67% increase in the ratings of the telecasts of the New York Rangers.
9. MLBAM – $480 Million
MLBAM stands for Major League Baseball Advanced Media and is a limited partnership of the club owners of Major League of Baseball. MLBAM is the internet and interactive branch of the league and is based in New York City. The company operates the official web site for the league. The site offers news, standings, statistics, and schedules, and subscribers have access to live audio and video broadcasts of most games. MLBAM is also the owner of MLB radio. In addition to all the baseball coverage facilitated by MLBAM, the company also distributes all of ESPN’s online video, including the BCS Championship game, and it serves up all the March Madness games for Turner and CBS. MLBAM also owns, or runs, the websites of various companies including the WWE Network and Guns N’ Roses.
8. NESN – $510 Million
The New England Sports Network is the regional cable television network of the six New England States. NESN is the primary broadcaster of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins and also provides regional college basketball coverage. NESN was launched in 1984 but moved to basic cable in 2001. NESN charges a monthly subscription fee of $3.56 which is the third highest fee of any regional sports network. Their telecasts of Boston Red Sox games averaged the fifth-highest rating in baseball in 2013. The network is jointly owned by Delaware North, who own the Boston Bruins and TD Garden (home of the Boston Celtics), and the Fenway Sports Group, who own the Boston Bruins and Liverpool Football Club.
7. YES Network – $625 Million
The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network is the primary carrier of New York Yankee and Brooklyn Nets games. The YES network offices are based in Manhattan. The channel launched in 2002 and is available locally in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania. The YES network is the most watched regional sports network in the U.S. The New York Yankees do not own the YES network, but 20% of the network is owned by Yankee Global Enterprises which owns the Yankees and the YES network as separate entities. The remaining 80% of the company is owned by 21st Century Fox. The YES network makes more money from advertising–both in total dollars and as a percentage of its overall revenue–than any other regional sports network.
6. Reebok – $1.1 Billion
The first shoe company on this list is also the first billion dollar sports brand. Reebok is not only an athletic shoe company but produces clothing and various sports gear. The company was founded in 1895 in Bolton, England. Since 2005, Reebok has been a subsidiary of another major shoe company on this list, Adidas. Reebok’s brand value actually decreased from $1.2 billion in 2012. One possible reason may be that the company is no longer the exclusive kit provider for the NFL, a position it held since 2002. On a more positive note, Reebok seems to be forging partnerships with fitness groups such as Spartan Race and Crossfit and may be cornering a new niche for themselves.
5. Under Armour – $3.7 Billion
Under Armour is an American owned sports clothing and accessories company that was founded in 1996. Under Armour’s claim to fame were the moisture-wicking shirts that were made from microfibers. These shirts managed to keep athletes dry, light and prevented the discomfort of being in a sweat soaked shirt. In 1999, the company was the outfitter for two Warner Bros films, Any Given Sunday and The Replacements. Things kept getting better and in 2000 the company became the outfitter of the XFL. Currently, Under Armour sponsors the NFL Combine and has branched out to other products including athletic shoes. Currently 12% of the company’s revenue comes from footwear sales.
4. Sky Sports – $4.1 Billion
Sky Sports is a group of sports television channels that launched in 1991 and are operated by the British Sky Broadcasting company. Sky Sports programming includes football (soccer), rugby, cricket, golf, darts, boxing, wrestling and a host of motorsports including F1. Most of Sky Sports’ channels are only available via an additional premium package subscription, with the exception of their Sky Sports News channel. The company is most famous for being the broadcaster of the English Premier League. It is the dominant provider of sports content in the UK and Ireland. Sky Sports played an important role in encouraging England’s top football division to break away from the Football League and form the Premier League in 1992.
3. Adidas – $7.1 Billion
As mentioned earlier, Adidas is a German owned company that produces athletic footwear, clothing and various accessories. Adidas is the holding company for the Adidas Group (AG) which includes Reebok, TaylorMade, Rockport and a percentage of the Bayern Munich football club. Adidas was founded by Adolf Dassler following a split with his brother who went on to form their early rival Puma. According to Forbes, during the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Adidas outfitted over 5,000 athletes, and 30% of the medals captured were by athletes wearing the brand. The company has sponsorship deals in virtually every sport and has sponsorship deals with some of the biggest sports stars in the world. A list of Adidas sponsored athletes include, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Steven Gerrard, Andy Murray, Robert Griffin III and many more.
2. ESPN – $15 Billion
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network often claims to be the worldwide leader in sports. Based on their brand value they are justified in those claims. The channel is owned by the Hearst Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, which has an 80% controlling stake. ESPN’s sports programming includes live events from almost all sports and also includes various sport talk shows, sport documentaries and sports news shows. ESPN is available on cable and over 85% of American cable subscribers receive ESPN. The company collected more than $6 Billion in cable fees in 2013. ESPN’s subscription fee is $5.50 a month which is the highest monthly subscription fee of any network on basic cable. ESPN was launched in 1979 and broadcasts primarily from their headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
1. Nike – $17.3 Billion
ESPN might be the worldwide leader in sports, but there is only one leader when it comes to athletic footwear. Nike is the global leader with almost 20% of the athletic footwear market, and according to Forbes its stock price has outperformed the Dow Jones U.S. Footwear index by 50% during the past five years. Nike is also the richest sports brand and its brand value of $17.3 Billion is significantly greater than Adidas, Under Armour and Reebok combined. Nike was founded in 1964 under the name Blue Ribbon Company by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. In 1971, the company renamed itself to Nike Inc. Nike is not just a shoe company but a global giant when it comes to sports apparel. Listing the teams and individuals the company sponsors would take too long. Since 2013, Nike has become the exclusive provider of all NFL team uniforms.
Nike was named after the Greek goddess of the same name who happened to be the goddess of victory. As of right now, they are victorious in being the most expensive sports brand in the world.