Major League Baseball is as healthy as it’s ever been financially, and the sport’s revenues are only growing.
Mike Ozanian of Forbes released his annual MLB franchise value estimates on Tuesday, and according to his data, the average club saw its value increase a whopping 19 percent in 2016. That is due to the growing MLB Advanced Media juggernaut -- MLBAM is league’s digital arm, and all 30 clubs own a piece -- and booming local television contracts.
The average MLB team is worth $1.54 billion, which lags behind the average NFL team ($2.39 billion) but is well ahead of the average NBA ($1.36 billion) and NHL ($517 million) team. Here are some more details from Ozanian:
Long gone are the days when MLB was replete with teams bleeding cash. During the 2016 season, baseball’s 30 teams posted an average operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $34 million, 52% more than the 2015 season (the previous record). Player costs (57% of the league’s operating expenses) did not increase as fast as revenue. In 2016, MLB’s 30 teams had aggregate revenue of $9.03 billion, 7.5% more than the previous season. But player costs--payrolls, signing bonuses (drafted players and international signings) and benefits--rose just 3.5%, to $4.56 billion in 2016.
The New York Yankees, naturally, remain MLB’s most valuable franchise, and it’s not all that close. Ozanian estimates -- that the key word here, estimates -- the franchise’s value at $3.7 billion. They generated $536 million in revenue last season through the team itself, the YES Network and other ventures. The Yankees are printing money despite a 10 percent drop in attendance the last few seasons.
According to Forbes, the Yankees are the second most valuable sports franchise in the United States, trailing only the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys ($4.2 billion). The New York Knicks are the most valuable NBA franchise at $3.3 billion. Here are baseball’s five most valuable franchises at this point in time, according to Ozanian:
- New York Yankees -- $3.7 billion
- Los Angeles Dodgers -- $2.75 billion
- Boston Red Sox -- $2.7 billion
- Chicago Cubs -- $2.68 billion
- San Francisco Giants -- $2.65 billion
Like I said, the Yankees are baseball’s most valuable franchise and it’s not close. The gap between them and the No. 2 team is the same as the gap between the No. 2 team and the No. 7 team (St. Louis Cardinals).
The two least valuable franchises in baseball right now are, unsurprisingly, the Oakland Athletics ($880 million) and Tampa Bay Rays ($825 million). Both clubs are currently trying to secure new ballparks, which will inevitably increase revenue and raise their franchise value.