League revenue is down thanks to COVID-19 shutdowns, but even that couldn’t stop franchises from increasing in value across the board.
As the world continues to recover from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, live entertainment is returning, and spectators are coming back to stadiums, theaters, and arenas. From restaurants to movies to sporting events, more customers are willing to spend money, helping businesses resume collecting revenue.
Countless businesses saw record-setting over the past 18 months. Venues focused on retail, hospitality, recreation, and beyond had to close temporarily — some permanently — due to widespread shutdowns and restrictions on in-person contact. The sports world wasn’t spared this, either, but one league was able not simply to elude losses, but emerge more powerful on paper than perhaps it’s ever been: The National Football League.
According to Forbes, each of the 32 NFL franchises saw no less than a 10% increase in their respective overall valuations over the past year, with 14% being the average. Leading the way? The Dallas Cowboys, whose incredible $6.5 billion estimated value is the highest in all of global sports.
Jerry Jones’ team is the NFL’s most valuable for the 15th consecutive year, with the $6.5 billion figure representing a full 14% increase from last year. The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoyed a 29% increase, jumping that team’s value to $2.94 billion — a huge number that still sits below the $3.48 billion league average.
The average team increase of 14% increase is the highest year-over-year leap in five years, all despite operating income and overall revenue taking a severe plunge.
Contrast the NFL’s situation with that of global soccer. Forbes estimates FC Barcelona to be worth $4.76 billion, making them the most valuable team in the world’s most popular sport. However, they couldn’t even find a way to re-sign their GOAT, Lionel Messi, due to absolutely crushing debt and a wage bill run amok.
The NFL has no such issues. And with that in mind, it’s worth asking if the business of football is ultimately pandemic-proof.
No, the NFL is not totally, permanently immune to the effects of revenue shortfalls, and a number of teams are facing ongoing issues related to vaccine skepticism. But in the big picture, football’s ability to sidestep much of the worst that the pandemic had to offer is both commendable and intimidating. Money will always be the driving force pushing the NFL forward, and thanks to the massive demand for it as a television product, and that portion of the business is only getting bigger despite all the challenges that still remain with regards to putting on large-scale live events.
As Forbes notes, even after adding a lucrative 17th regular season game, the NFL is looking to boost its value further by including revenue from several related entities in its books, including the NFL Films library and NFL Network — the cable network brings in between $1.5-$2 billion annually, but officially accounts for nothing NFL’s official bottom line.
Such a move will also increase the value of the individual franchises due to existing revenue-sharing agreements.
The National Football League keeps finding new ways to prove that it’s an economic titan that has no true equal in the sports world. Eve global pandemic can stop that from happening.