Cowboys, Yankees Ranked As World’s Two Most Valuable Sports Franchises

New estimates place the Cowboys and Yankees at the top of the list of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.

A new estimate from Forbes values the Dallas Cowboys as being worth $5 billion, making them the most valuable sports franchise in the country:

The Dallas Cowboys is the most valuable sports team in the world according to Forbes, worth a staggering $5 billion.It’s the fourth consecutive year that the NFL outfit has topped the rankings, this year fending off competition from teams from the worlds of baseball, basketball and European soccer

.Owned by businessman Jerry Jones, the defending NFC East champions generate twice as much sponsorship and seating revenue at its AT&T Stadium than any other team.

Major League Baseball (MLB) outfit New York Yankees jumped up from fifth last year to second, with its value coming in at $4.6 billion — an annual increase of 15%

Coming in at third place, Real Madrid is ranked as the most valuable soccer team in the world.

The Spanish side may have struggled on the field last season, finishing third in La Liga, but that had little impact on its financial power with its value increasing 4% to $4.2 billion.

Just behind is Madrid’s fierce rival Barcelona with the Catalan club worth $4.02 billion after winning the Spanish domestic league. NBA side New York Knicks make up the top five.

Forbes’ valuations suggest the NFL is the most powerful sports league in the world, accounting for more than half of the current top 50. This is due to rocketing broadcast contracts that cannot be compared to with other sports.

The MLB has seven teams in the list while the NBA has nine and European soccer eight.

You can find the full Top 50 List at the link, but here are the top ten

  1. Dallas Cowboys — Valued at $5 billion (up 4% from last year);
  2. New York Yankees — Valued at $4.6 billion (up 15% from last year);
  3. Real Madrid — Valued at $4.24 billion (up 4.24% from last year);
  4. Barcelona FC — Valued at $4.02 billion (down -1% from last year);
  5. New York Knicks —- Valued at $4 billion (up 11% from last year);
  6. Manchester United — Valued at $3.81 billion (down -8% from last year);
  7. New England Patriots — Valued at $3.8 billion (up 3% from last year);
  8. Los Angeles Lakers — Valued at $3.7 billion (up 12% from last year);
  9. Golden State Warriors — Valued at $3.5 billion (up 13% from last year);
  10. (tie) New York Giants — Valued at $3.3 billion (unchanged from last year)
    Los Angeles Dodgers — Valued at $3.3 billion (up 3.3% from last year.

Among the interesting things to note is the fact that only two Major League Baseball teams appear in the top ten, the Yankees at second and the Dodgers, who are tied for tenth place. The NFL, meanwhile, has three teams in the top ten, the NBA has three teams in the top ten, and the remaining three teams are international soccer franchises, with two from Spain and one from the United Kingdom. The next five places are dominated by American teams such as the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Rams, who are tied at 12th place, the Washington Redskins and Chicago Cubs, who are tied at 14th place, and the San Francisco 49ers who sit at 16th place.

Also worth noting is the fact that every franchise in the three major American sports leagues — the NFL, MLB, and NBA — are worth at least $1 billion. It’s also worth noting that there are no NHL or MLS (Major League Soccer) franchises in the top fifty list and that there are eight international soccer franchises, most of them from the United Kingdom, in the top fifty. This isn’t entirely surprising given the fact that it was just four years ago that the Los Angeles Clippers, generally seen as the lesser of the two Los Angeles NBA franchises, were sold for $2 billion at what was essentially a “fire sale” given the fact that the previous owner had been banned from the NBA due to a history of racist comments on his part. As several analysts who look at the issue of the valuation of sports franchises noted at the time, if the Clippers were worth $2 billion then there were dozens of other teams in all the other American leagues that were likely worth far more. Indeed, the current list values the Clippers at $2.2 billion which places them near the bottom of the top fifty, while the Lakers are valued at $3.7 billion.

To some extent, these valuations are somewhat arbitrary and reflect analysts valuations of the teams involved and their various properties, including television contracts and associated networks. In the end, though, the true value of the teams can only be determined by putting them on the market and seeing what they would go for under those circumstances. In such a case, I suspect that many of these teams, such as the Cowboys or Yankees would likely sell for far more than they are valued at. That’s unlikely to happen any time soon, of course. Jerry Jones is not going to give up ownership of the Cowboys, and the Steinbrenner family considers the Yankees to be the crown jewel of the family’s assets. Indeed, dating back to George Steinbrenner’s acquisition of the team from CBS in 1973, the family has owned the franchise for 46 years, the longest of any owner in the team’s history.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Entertainment, Popular Culture, Sports, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Hasn’t this been the case historically?
    It seems to me that the Cowboys and the Yankees have always been the most valuable franchises.
    Caveat: I worked for the Cowboys for a brief time, last century…but had to leave what should have been a dream job because Jerry Jones is such a asshole.

  2. Kathy says:

    To put this in perspective:

    A quick search tells me the average value of an NFL team is $2.57 billion. But that’s from last year, so let’s say it’s risen to an even $3 billion. so $3 billion X 32 teams = $96 billion.

    Which is under 10% (ten percent) of what Apple or Microsoft are worth.

  3. Slugger says:

    A little surprised at the ratings of the Knicks. Long ago, I was a Celtics fan*, but the Knicks of the early seventies were absolutely thrilling. When Willis Reed came out to defend against Wilt Chamberlain in game seven in 1970, it was legendary, epic, El Cid on the maples! The others on the team were immortals as well; Bradley, DeBusschere, Frazier, Cazzie Russell completed a quintuplet that could face anyone of any time. The current Knicks ownership has an obligation to strive to create a team to challenge that greatness. Come on, spend every penny needed! Make Spike Lee happy!
    * The 1969 win over the Lakers was biggest thrill ever!

  4. James Joyner says:

    I suspect the Cowboys and Yankees are actually both “worth” considerably more than the $5 billion guestimate—if by “worth” we mean “what someone would be willing to pay to buy them.” They’re iconic franchises and there are plenty of mega-billionaires out there would could afford to pay way more than that to have a unique toy to add to their collection.

  5. @Slugger:

    I suspect the main reason the Knicks are ranked so high is due to (1) their presence in the biggest media market in the country and (2) the fact that they are part-owners of the MSG networks, which broadcasts the Knicks and the Rangers (NHL) along with at least one of the three MLS teams located in the area. Similary the Yankees empire includes not just the team, but also the YES Network, which broadcasts the Brooklyn Nets and the games of New York City FC, another MLS franchise in the area. YES also has apparently exclusive rights to all the past Yankees broadcast, which they often rebroadcast during the off-season. (One night a month or so ago, for example, they were showing games from the 1970s era team that won two World Series.)

  6. @James Joyner:

    Yea I touched on that in the closing paragaph. If the Clippers could go for $2 billion five years ago under what were essentially forced sale conditions, then both teams would likely go for something far north of the value assigned to them if put up for sale. As I said, though, I doubt that either Jerry Jones or the Steinbrenner family are going to be selling any time soon.

  7. sam says:

    Mildly OT, but I was in a bar in KilKenny, Ireland about a month ago, and I saw one entire wall covered with pictures of the Yankees. Pictures going back many, many years.

  8. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: “When Jerry Jones talks, people listen”

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    To add to Doug’s comment, the Knicks also own Madison Square Garden and as you are likely aware, NY real estate is pricey.

  10. de stijl says:


    Did you ask why?

    There must have been a story there. At least an amusing anectdote.

  11. Tyrell says:

    @Slugger: Under the current ownership I don’t think the Knicks fans are going to be doing much celebrating.