At first glance, comparing American football to basketball looks like comparing apples and oranges, since there are a lot more differences between the two sports leagues, just like the shape of their balls.
And the list continues indefinitely.
When it comes to comparing worth, one thing that makes the NBA and NFL very similar and both America’s biggest and favorite is their desire to become a money-making powerhouse over time.
Which league is leading in that goal right now?
Which sport do more Americans prefer in 2018?
Which league is better preparing themselves for worldwide domination?
In this article, we are going to compare and examine the NBA and NFL, which are the two leading sports leagues in America and the world, in terms of ratings, attendance, viewership, salaries, and revenue. We will attempt to answer a lot of questions and provide a comprehensive analysis.
Let’s begin by contrasting the revenue of each league.
Which Sports League Generates Higher Revenue, NFL or NBA?
Since there are only 1,230 NBA matchups and 256 NFL regular-season games each year, you might think that streaming revenue for basketball would be overall bigger.
However, it does not.
Since 2010, the NFL experienced a $6 billion surge and earned $900 million more than the previous season, resulting in a total revenue of $14 billion during the most recent season.
Conversely, the NBA generated $7.4 billion in revenue during the previous season, experiencing a 25% increase compared to the preceding season where their total earnings amounted to $5.94 billion. However, the NBA achieved.
NFL teams also generate higher revenue on average.
The 2017-18 season saw NFL sponsorship revenue reach $1.32 billion, with beer, trucks, and fast food being some of the biggest contributors.
Surprisingly, beer slipped down two positions to become the seventh largest sponsor in the NBA. Insurance, fast food establishments, and medical retail were among the top spenders, contributing to the NBA sponsorship revenue of $1.12 billion during the 2017-18 season.
How Do the Two Leagues Differ in Sharing Their Revenue?
The NFL made deals with individual franchises, distributing more than half of its $14 billion revenue mostly from national media in the last season.
Across the league, $7.2 billion is received in national revenue sharing by every NFL team, which amounts to $226.4 million last season.
The salary cap for the 2017-18 NBA season was set at $99.093 million, and each team is allocated revenue that matches the salary cap of that particular year. Regardless of their financial success, all NBA teams combine their yearly earnings and subsequently distribute them. In order to maintain fairness within the NBA, revenue sharing does not include any Basketball Related Income (BRI), such as ticket sales and concessions, TV contracts, merchandising rights, and apparel sales.
Which Generates Higher Revenue – the Super Bowl or the NBA Playoffs?
This one is nowhere near.
The Super Bowl actually generates more income than the combined NBA Playoffs and MLB Playoffs.
In the previous season, Automotive companies Chrysler Fiat and InBev Anheuser-Busch were the top spenders in parent company advertising. They easily surpassed the $500 million revenue from in-game ad spots alone, exceeding the $400 million spent in the previous season’s Super Bowl LII.
It’s much harder to track the total revenue of the NBA Playoffs each season since there are more games and more money made by everyone, especially if it’s a sweep and the series only lasts four games.
Some more skeptical enthusiasts suspect that the reason certain series extend their duration is because everyone desires to generate additional revenue.
Another $45 million would likely be tossed on the pile, as reported by AdAge, bringing the revenue to $223.9 million and the games going to a seventh between the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Lebron James in the NBA Playoffs. This instance occurred at the end of the 2016-17 season.
The Cavs swept the Warriors in four games during the last NBA Playoffs, which had considerably less money than there were two years prior.
In conclusion, the Super Bowl generally generates over double the revenue compared to the NBA Playoffs.
Which Teams Have a Higher Value, NFL or NBA?
The National Football League holds a significant edge over the National Basketball Association, with a staggering 52% difference in terms of team value. However, in the last five years, this gap has been reduced by more than half as a result of the NBA’s recent surge in growth, although this impressive figure can be somewhat misleading.
Almost all but five of the NFL teams are valued at a minimum of $2 billion, with an 8% increase from last year, according to Forbes Magazine. The average worth of an NFL team is $2.5 billion.
The Buffalo Bills rank at the bottom of the chart with a worth of $1.6 billion. They possess a value of $4.8 billion, which has increased by 14%. Once again, for the eleventh consecutive year, the Dallas Cowboys hold the title of the NFL’s most valuable team and the world’s most valuable franchise.
The NBA team’s average worth is now a record-breaking $1.65 billion, making it the first time in the league’s history that a team is worth over $1 billion.
Valued at $3.6 billion, the New York Knicks hold the title for being the most valuable. In contrast, the New Orleans Pelicans, now worth $1 billion, were at the bottom of the NBA last year with a valuation of $750 million.
What is the Reason Behind the 22% Increase in the Value of NBA Teams in 2018 Compared to 2017?
Not only have NBA team values increased by 22% in the last year, franchise values have tripled over the last five years.
What is the main cause of that?
Every year, NBA revenue outside the United States, which has been consistently in the high teens, has been experiencing stronger growth compared to any other major sports league in the United States. The league has successfully established its presence in the global market.
Sal Galatioto, the president of Galatioto Sports Partners, a prominent sports finance and advisory firm, affirms that the NBA is in a highly advantageous position for expanding globally. According to him, the quality of the NBA product is outstanding, and the global interest in basketball is thriving.
A significant portion of the NBA’s global outreach has been concentrated on China and Mexico.
Is the NFL as Globally Popular as the NBA?
One of the reasons why the NFL hasn’t put in as much effort as the NBA to expand its international fan base is because it hasn’t given enough attention to the specific region that is negatively impacting its overall statistics.
According to the Review Econ, it is not an easy feat to know that rugby is the primary sport for English sports fans, given that NFL viewership in the United Kingdom increased by 60% in 2017.
In 2018, there are three NFL matches planned to take place in the United Kingdom.
ALSO READ: NFL 2020 Week 1 Forecasts and Selections.
How Does the Average NFL Salary Compare to the Average NBA Salary?
Other formats, such as a few contacts and various incentives, including a signing bonus and a roster bonus, enable rookies to make big money through bonuses. In the NFL, players in their first year can make an average of $365,000 per year, which constantly rises from $5,000 per year.
Special allowances are granted for extraordinary athletes, however, inexperienced players usually begin their NFL careers with the minimum salary. As an illustration, this year, Baker Mayfield, the rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, inked a four-year agreement valued at $32.68 million (including a signing bonus of $21.85 million), while Saquon Barkley, the running back for the New York Giants, reached a deal worth $31.2 million (including a signing bonus of $20.77 million).
Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings earns $28 million per season, in addition to approximately $1 to $1.5 million from endorsements. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, who receives an average of $30 million per season and $5 million from endorsements, has the highest salaries among all quarterbacks. It is worth noting that all quarterbacks in the top ten highest-paid NFL athletes list. On average, an NFL quarterback earns around $4 million annually, whereas a typical NFL player earns $1.9 million per year.
(All ten of those athletic millionaires, check out our in-depth article on the NFL’s top ten highest players, for a complete list.).
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has set minimum and maximum salary thresholds.
The minimum salary for a player in the NBA with 10+ years of experience is $2,393,887. For a player with 5 years in the NBA, the minimum salary is $1,757,429. A rookie can expect to be paid at least $1,349,383 in their second year, and at least $838,464 per season. The minimum salary figures are based on the number of years a player has in the NBA.
The NBA’s maximum salary levels vary depending on whether you choose to re-sign with a team or explore other opportunities.
For a period of up to five years, they can anticipate an 8% yearly increase. The maximum amount they can earn is $35,654,150 if they have spent 10 or more years in the league. In each season, the highest amount a player can earn is $30,560,700 if they have been in the NBA for 7-9 years. If a player with 6 years or less of experience decides to renew their contract with their own team for the 2018-19 NBA season, they cannot earn more than $25,467,250.
For players signing with a new team, the maximums start the same but only raise by 5% yearly up to four years.
The NBA athletes who received the highest incomes in 2018 earn considerably more than their NFL counterparts, particularly when considering their sponsorships.
LeBron James, currently a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, will earn a total of $85.5 million annually when his endorsement deals worth $52 million are taken into account. However, his salary will amount to $33.5 million.
Stephen Curry, the star player of the Golden State Warriors, will earn a total of $76.9 million from endorsements ($42 million) and his salary ($34.9 million), making him one of the highest-paid players in the NBA.
Why do NFL athletes earn a lower overall income compared to NBA players?
It ultimately boils down to fundamental mathematics.
There are thirty-two NFL teams with fifty-three player lineups, so that adds up to a grand total of one thousand six hundred ninety-six athletes receiving a share of endorsements and league revenue.
Competing for sponsorship agreements are just 450 NBA players in total, thus each typically maintains a roster of 12-15 players, while the NBA consists of 30 teams.
Where it truly makes an impact is with the distribution of income.
Why Are NFL Players Earning a Lower Total Income Compared to NBA Players?
As a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL, the NFL currently shares 48.5 percent of its league revenue with the players, which amounts to a revenue of 8 billion dollars.
The current labor contract in the NBA means that roughly $3.7 billion was shared among all the players in the league before revenue expenses were accounted for, which is about half of the total amount.
However, this is where the NBA holds an edge over the NFL.
The NBA portion will perpetually be lesser than the NFL earnings slice, therefore there exist a significantly greater number of basketball athletes compared to football athletes.
The overall participants in the NFL collectively distribute the league earnings, which are partitioned among 1,696 individuals, whereas in the NBA, the earnings are allocated among only 450 players.
$8 billion divided by 1,696 equals $4.717 million per NFL player.
$3.7 billion divided by 450 equals $8.222 million per NBA player.
NFL vs NBA: Audience Numbers
Which Sport Receives More Attention in the U.S., The NFL or the NBA?
There is no question that NFL viewership is declining, as stated by Austin Karp from the Sports Business Daily.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, and the shared Thursday Night Football package (between NBC, CBS, NFL Network, and Amazon) all experienced a decrease in viewership for the consecutive second season.
The actual figures (average viewership):.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football attracted 18.175 million viewers in 2017, 20.323 million viewers in 2016, and 22.522 million viewers in 2015.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football had a viewership of 10.757 million in 2017, 11.390 million in 2016, and 12.896 million in 2015.
The 2017 version of Thursday Night Football, which was broadcasted on NBC, CBS, and the NFL Network, captured the attention of 10.937 million viewers. In contrast, the 2016 edition brought in 12.438 million viewers, whereas the 2015 edition garnered 12.425 million viewers.
So how do those decreasing NFL viewership numbers compare to the NBA?
It’s nowhere near.
According to Variety, the average television viewership for NBA games measured by Nielson increased from 1.28 million in the 2013-14 season to a high of four million in the 2016-17 season. This increase can be attributed to the partnership between the NBA and four television networks – TNT, TV NBA, ESPN, and ABC – which broadcasted the league’s games nationally.
The NFL has no reason to worry now, as there may not always be a surge upward in viewership for the NBA and a downward trend in NFL numbers.