America may have some of the highest-profile sports organizations in the world, but this doesn’t mean it’s the only country producing profitable sports leagues. While American sports do tend to bring in more money than many of those abroad, they don’t dominate the international scale as much as many think. The most profitable sporting leagues may surprise you.
10. Ligue 1: $1.5 billion
One major reason why the international market isn’t dominated by American sports is that the U.S. is one of just a handful of nations across the world that doesn’t live and breathe soccer. Ligue 1, while not the most profitable by a long shot, formed in partnership with France and Monaco. Still growing, the soccer league hopes to secure some new lucrative deals.
9. Serie A: $1.9 billion
Serie A is easily recognizable to soccer fans due to its on-and-off success on the international scene. The soccer league that was once near the top of the international list has seen tough days, according to Bleacher Report. Despite this, it is still a lucrative business bringing in nearly $2 billion in profits.
8. La Liga: $2.2 billion
One cannot talk about the international popularity of professional soccer without discussing Spain. Home to several of the biggest clubs in the world, La Liga boasts FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and several others that even stretch to the United States when it comes to overall popularity.
7. AFL: $2.5 billion
Football might be a quintessentially American sport, but Australia took notice with its own league. Those who are up late at night on weekends might’ve seen Australian Rules Football, which is quite different than its American counterpart. The league sells out nearly 40,000-person stadiums and continues to grow into one of the most profitable sports leagues.
6. NHL: $4.43 billion
The NHL is still wildly popular despite its firm place at fourth in terms of American sports leagues. Drawing talent from all over the world, the NHL is bigger than the North American continent it calls home. While hockey might not have the largest amount of supporters, it has a fiercely loyal fan base who will watch as much as they possibly can.
5. English Premier League: $5.3 billion
Despite residing in England, few sporting leagues have the international reach of the English Premier League. Drawing some of the best soccer players, money is no object for teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but the EPL is a league above the rest when it comes to the money it makes.
4. Indian Premier League: $6.3 billion
To a Western audience, cricket might just be the spiritual relative of baseball. in India, however, it’s wildly popular, as CNBC reports. With a potential TV and digital audience of 1.5 billion in its home country, cricket doesn’t need international appeal, although it’s gaining traction there, too.
The Indian Premier League is by far the most profitable sports league in India. Its 47-day season is a national event for hundreds of millions of people.
3. The NBA: $7.4 billion
Despite ranking third here, no American league has international appeal like the NBA. With a focus on stars and the bonus of a Chinese market that makes up a large part of its fan base, the NBA is the most global American sporting league in terms of impact. It’s also the league that covers the most international territory both in the preseason and regular season.
2. Major League Baseball: $10 billion
Baseball might not be the draw it once was for Americans, but its appeal across North and South America still makes one of the most profitable sports leagues. With 162 games on the schedule and players making nearly half-a-billion dollars on large contracts, the MLB is not hurting for cash.
1. The NFL: $13 billion
What the NFL lacks in international appeal it makes up for in its religious following around the U.S. Despite a recent decline in popularity, reports Forbes, the NFL has successfully turned itself into a juggernaut thanks to a devoted fan base, weekly drama, and the rise of fantasy football. While other leagues might have a greater global reach, no sport connects with Americans quite like football.