19 Sports Industry Revenue Stats to Knock It Out of the Park
Updated · May 01, 2022
Life is good—your favorite team is playing tonight, you secured the drinks, and now your friends are coming over to watch the game. The air is filled with the intent of nothing but pure bliss.
You hope that you’ll have a good time, but the teams, sponsors, and media are actually hoping for that twice as much as you. After all, a fan’s well-spent game night is what makes the sports industry revenue hit wild numbers!
You might have never looked at it this way, but the industry is so big that it’ll likely reach $600 billion in revenue by 2025.
Come explore with us how much the sports industry is worth today.
Fascinating Facts (Editor’s Choice)
- In 2018, the sports market size reached $71.06 billion in North America.
- Globally, the industry would’ve been at $500 billion in 2020 if the pandemic hadn’t hit.
- Participatory sports accounted for 72.1% of the total market in 2020.
- Worth $379 million, the NFL’s Super Bowl is Forbes’ first place nominee for the most valuable sports event.
- Recovering from the pandemic, the sports industry grew at a 13.5% CAGR.
- Projections suggest the industry will grow to $826 billion by 2030.
- Global revenues generated by soccer approximate $28 billion annually.
Some Sports Industry Statistics
Before we start, do you know what the sports industry is?
Put simply, it’s everything that’s associated with sports—the media, the merchandise, the games, the promotions, and the transactions are all a part of it.
The actors in the market are plenty and are constantly increasing its revenue, which generates big numbers. How big exactly?
1. The industry showed a decline of 15.4% in 2020.
(Source: The Business Research Company)
Just like it did on the economy as a whole, the pandemic had a serious impact on sports. In 2019, the sports industry revenue was $458.8 billion. A year later, though, it hit an all-time low—$388.3 billion in revenue and a decline rate of -15.4%.
2. In 2021, the sports industry grew 13.5%.
(Source: Research and Markets)
So, COVID-19 hit the sports industry pretty hard. 2020 was the toughest year in recent history, as stadiums were closed and games were constantly postponed.
However, upon reorganization and recovery from the pandemic’s impact, the industry managed to grow at a CAGR of 13.5%. This translates to a $52 billion increase from 2020 to 2021.
3. By 2025, the market should hit $599.9 billion.
(Source: The Business Research Company)
How much is the sports industry worth?
As of 2021, the sports market was $354.96 billion, and projections show an approximate value of $501.43 billion for 2022. The huge growth rate (41.3%) is due to the industry’s post-pandemic recovery and companies’ rearrangement of operations.
In the decade to come, the industry will probably plateau at a steady 8% CAGR, reaching $599.9 billion by 2025 and as much as $826 billion by 2030.
4. “Participatory” is the largest segment of the market.
There are two main segments of the sports industry: participatory and spectator. The difference between the two is simple: are you playing or watching?
Although, to be fair, most popular sports could fit in both categories. It’s likely that you play and watch sports like basketball, football, tennis, or volleyball.
Meanwhile, solely participatory sports are the ones you might not see on TV, such as hunting, fitness, walking, or fishing. They might seem less popular, but participatory sports accounted for 72.1% of the market in 2020, making it the industry’s largest segment.
The spectator segment, on the other hand, is the fastest growing category, foreseen to reach a 11.1% CAGR in 2020–2025.
Sports Revenue in the US
The entertainment and sports industry is quite developed in North America, with the US being among the leaders in the global market.
The sponsorships, media, and merchandise are massive in the country, resulting in significant contributions to the growth of the sports industry.
Let’s go over the numbers.
5. North America is one of the largest markets in the sports world.
Not too long ago, in 2018, the North American market reached $71.06 billion. And, if projections are to be believed, that number will grow all the way to $83.1 billion by 2023.
That number is considering merchandising, media rights (radio and television), ticket and gate revenue, and different kinds of sponsorships.
Granted, the experts didn’t exactly count on the pandemic when they made the forecasts, but the market seems to be recuperating well enough from the disaster that was 2020.
6. The media rights market accounted for $20.14 billion of the American sports industry in 2018.
Internet services, television channels, and radio stations pay certain fees to broadcast sporting events, both live and recorded. These payments are among the most solid streams of the US’ sports revenue.
In the span of 2006-2018, this revenue stream alone recorded an increase of nearly $12 billion, presumably because of the increased accessibility to the internet and various smart devices.
7. The sponsorship sector generated $17.17 billion in 2018.
You have a Manchester United cup in your kitchen?
Well, that is because a cup company paid the team to be associated with it.
To make more money, companies want their products to showcase something popular, and that is often a sports team or a league.
This revenue channel will probably reach $20.65 billion by 2023.
8. Gate revenues: the most valuable segment of the US sports market.
Did you know that the US is the country with the most stadiums in the world?
Yep. There are at least 917 of them throughout the country.
So, it’s fair to think that American sports make quite a bit of money from gate revenues. In fact, ticket sales in North America accounted for $19.2 billion in 2018.
Now that the pandemic is somewhat more… controlled, stadiums are coming back to life, which means the segment will only continue to grow.
9. Companies pay $6.5 million for 30 seconds on the Super Bowl.
Given how much the sports industry is worth, you shouldn’t be surprised.
With around 112.3 million viewers and a stadium capacity of 100,000 spectators, the Super Bowl commercial time is the battlefield for high-profile businesses.
Companies like Netflix, Disney, and Toyota compete with at least 70 other enterprises to get their hands on the golden ad slot which explains why such extreme sums of money are spent at this… auction.
On top of the millions of dollars the Super Bowl generates from ads and tickets, the NFL receives $3 billion from Fox, CBS, and NBC for media rights every year.
Fun fact: The Super Bowl is the 14th most valuable sports brand. The first place on the list goes to Nike, with a $37.4 billion yearly revenue.
The Biggest Sports by Revenue
Let’s face it: Some sports are more popular than others, and some teams have a larger fanbase than their competitors.
Each sport can make tons of money—no one’s contesting that—but, for now, let’s focus on the most profitable ones.
10. Soccer generates approximately $28 billion each year.
To no one’s surprise, soccer is the most popular sport worldwide. Whenever you hear some sports news, chances are the reporter is talking about soccer. This is a trend in the economics of sports, too.
Let’s put it like this: Tennis, golf, and Formula 1 combined make €23 billion, whereas the soccer industry is worth €20 billion alone.
Fun fact: Officially, there are 265+ million soccer players around the world. Not all of them are professionals, of course, but each of them is enlisted in at least one team.
11. The most valuable NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys.
With a market value of nearly $7 billion, the Dallas Cowboys was the most valuable National Football League (NFL) team of 2021.
Predictions show that the Dallas Cowboys will be the first team in the league to generate $1 billion in annual revenue—as long as there’s a full game season, of course.
Fun fact: An NFL team is worth $3.5 billion on average. Combined, though, the NFL’s 32 franchises are worth more than $112 billion.
12. The collective NBA teams’ market size is worth $77.5 billion.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) started out with 11 teams. Now, it has 30 successful franchises, each averaging a value of $2.58 billion.
In 2021, the New York Knicks was the first among NBA teams to make over $5 billion. Estimations show the team’s worth $6.12 billion, which represents a 13% increase from the previous year.
Next up on the most valuable franchise list are the Golden State Warriors ($6 billion) and the Los Angeles Lakers ($5.5 billion).
13. The New York Yankees is MLB’s most valuable team.
Combined, the 30 franchises that make up the Major League Baseball (MLB) are worth more than $66 billion.
An MLB team’s market size is $2.2 billion on average, but the most valuable team is actually worth approximately $6.75 billion.
In 2020, the New York Yankees experienced a 75% decline in market value, but the team quickly recovered and got back to generating $482 million in 2022.
Sports Marketing Facts
It may come as a surprise, but the sports industry has its own marketing category. Thanks to the creative efforts of marketing professionals, the industry continues to thrive.
Let’s see what the latest sports marketing statistics are.
14. 82% of the most remembered ads feature a sports star.
Brands want to associate their name with a credible face—and, more often than not, a popular athlete will do.
As of 2022, the MMA fighter, Connor McGregor, received the most money from brand endorsements, estimated at a value of $180 million.
Lionel Messi comes in second place, making $130 million annually from marketing deals alone. The third place goes to Cristiano Ronaldo, who secures $120 million a year doing the same.
So, although the sports industry revenue is nothing to scoff at, these athletes probably earn more from posting a photo on social media than from actually playing the game.
Fun fact: An Instagram post by Ronaldo is worth $985,000. He has 424+ million followers, which makes him the most followed person on the social network.
15. 76% of sports organizers use social media for the promotion of events.
(Source: Martech Zone)
Social media knows no bounds, and sports organizers realized that pretty quickly. They’re simply perfect for global sports marketing.
Plus, online platforms are now the second go-to screen for a sports game. Millions of enthusiasts go online to watch events and participate in heated discussions about the matches.
With 650 million active fans on Facebook alone, teams, brands, and sponsors are reaping the benefits of a strong social media presence.
16. The fitness wearables market expects a rise up to $114.36 billion by 2028.
(Source: Fortune Business Insights)
The trends show that the market for fitness wearables is among the sports industry segments that generate the most revenue, boasting a 15.4% CAGR.
Due to the combined efforts of brands like Apple and Fitbit, influencers, social media, and traditional ads, 20% of people in the US now find themselves using a fitness monitoring device regularly.
In 2020, the worth of the athletic clothing and equipment industry approximated $353.5 billion, which includes the $36.34 billion of value fitness trackers accounted for.
Sports Industry Trends in 2022
By now, it’s probably pretty clear that the sports industry is serious business.
Now, let’s see what fans and execs have to look forward to.
17. Sports betting now goes legal and mainstream.
Can watching a match get any more exciting?
We’re betting you’ll be at least ten times more excited if you put money on the turnout of a match—and twenty times giddier if you actually predicted it right.
It’s been an uphill battle, but America’s sports data shows that betting is now officially legal in 29 states (including the District of Columbia). Companies expect national legalization to come soon and are preparing for the boom in this segment.
DraftKings, for instance, moved fast and, on top of being the official fantasy league partner, it is now also the official sports betting partner of the UFC and NFL.
Fun fact: People worldwide bet about $100 billion during the NFL season.
18. Basketball will be the highest-paying sport in 2022.
(Source: Sports Browser)
What major sport makes the most money?
Soccer. No question.
But which sport pays the most money?
Well, soccer, too. At least in 2021. But the latest statistics suggest that basketball will be the highest-paying sport for 2022. If you think about it, it isn’t all that surprising. After all, the richest sportsman in the world is Michael Jordan, an NBA player whose net worth is estimated at $2.2 billion.
Fun fact: Did you know that Michael Jordan invested $26 million into esports a few years ago? Technically speaking, esports don’t contribute to the global sports industry revenue, as many countries are still skeptical of the, well sporty-ness, of esports. That said, renowned sports brands—like the Lakers and Manchester United—have started delving into the competitive gaming segment.
19. NFTs: The golden $2 billion opportunity of 2022.
How much would you pay for a T-shirt signed by your favorite soccer player?
While a real T-shirt might be less accessible, an exclusive digital token with actual ties to a popular team can fulfill a fan’s dreams just as well.
While the market boom is still in its initial stages, experts suggest transactions associated with NFTs will generate more than $2 billion in revenue for the sports entertainment industry.
Projections show that five million fans will purchase NFTs in the upcoming year.
Fun fact: Someone bought a Lebron James highlight for $200,000. That’s the most expensive NBA-licensed NFT to date.
The world of sports is impressive. The market is extremely valuable and expects to continue growing with more post-pandemic full seasons, social media utilization, and product digitalization.
Sports does it all!
Entertainment, sponsorships, merchandise, NFTs—is there anything that has not been used yet to boost the sports industry revenue?
Well, probably yes. There’s much more to explore and exploit in years to come.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.